Jump to main content.

Public Involvement Network News

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

Reducing Environmental Impacts of Mountaintop Coal Mining

On June 11, 2009, Obama Administration officials announced that they are taking unprecedented steps to reduce the environmental impacts of mountaintop coal mining in the six Appalachian states of Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia through a coordinated approach between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of the Interior (DOI) and Army Corps of Engineers.

Through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior; and Terrence "Rock" Salt, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, the Administration will implement an Interagency Action Plan on mountaintop coal mining that will:

 "Mountaintop coal mining cannot be predicated on the assumption of minimal oversight of its environmental impacts, and its permanent degradation of water quality.  Stronger reviews and protections will safeguard the health of local waters, and thousands of acres of watersheds in Appalachia," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.  "Our announcement today reaffirms EPA's fundamental responsibility for protecting the water quality and environmental integrity of streams, rivers, and wetlands under the Clean Water Act.  Getting this right is important to coalfield communities that count on a livable environment, both during mining and after coal companies move to other sites."

In close coordination, EPA, DOI, and the Corps will take several short-term actions to reform the regulation of mountaintop coal mining under the two primary environmental laws governing this mining practice.

The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency will take immediate steps under the CWA to minimize environmental harm by taking the following actions in 2009:

 The Department of Interior will also take the following steps:

Concurrent with these short-term actions, the three agencies will embark on a comprehensive, coordinated review of their existing respective regulations and procedures governing mountaintop coal mining under existing law.  The agencies will also create an interagency working group to promote ongoing Federal collaboration and ensure the Action Plan achieves results.  As these reforms are implemented, the agencies will seek to involve the public and guide Federal actions through robust public comment and outreach.

EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers are today taking steps to enhance coordination in the environmental review of pending Clean Water Act permits for surface coal mining activities in Appalachian States.  Administrator Jackson and Acting Assistant Secretary Salt have directed EPA and Corps field offices to coordinate under new procedures to ensure Clean Water Act permit decisions are fully consistent with sound science and the law, reduce adverse environmental impacts, provide greater public participation and transparency, and address pending permits in a more timely manner. 

The Federal agencies will also work in coordination with appropriate regional, state, and local entities to help diversify and strengthen the Appalachian regional economy and promote the health and welfare of Appalachian communities.  This interagency effort will have a special focus on stimulating clean enterprise and green jobs development, encouraging better coordination among existing federal efforts, and supporting innovative new ideas and initiatives.

[Based on news releases]

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.