November 19, 2009
Contact: Oliver Bernstein, Sierra Club, 512-477-2152
Interior Department Stuck in Slow Motion on Addressing
Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining
Immediate Action -- Not Delays -- Needed to Protect
Appalachian Streams, Communities
Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. Department of the Interior confirmed that it will slowly propose a new federal regulation to protect streams from mountaintop removal coal mining. The Department intends to delay proposing a new stream buffer zone rule until at least 2011, a move that could mean devastation for more areas of Appalachia. The rule is needed to ensure that mining waste cannot be dumped within 100 feet of a mountain stream, to protect nearby waterways, communities, and wildlife from pollution and destruction.
In response to the Department of the Interior announcement, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign Deputy Director Mary Anne Hitt issued the following statement:
"The Interior Department's decision to delay means mining companies will continue to destroy Appalachia's potential for a clean energy future. While we welcome the increased mining oversight that the Department of Interior is proposing, what Interior should really do is quickly issue a regulation to prohibit mountaintop removal coal mining that buries streams with mining waste.
"The slow timetable to protect waterways from mining waste will mean more destruction in Appalachia. There is nothing 'expeditious' or 'immediate' about the Interior Department's decision to delay until 2011 even proposing a new rule to protect streams and communities from mountaintop removal coal mining.
"Coal companies have already buried close to 2,000 miles of Appalachian streams beneath piles of toxic waste and debris, and only swift, decisive action will protect communities and waterways from mountaintop removal."