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Press Room:  For Immediate Release 
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet

March 25, 2009
Contact: Oliver Bernstein, Sierra Club, 512-477-2152

Sierra Club Praises Obama Administration’s Bold First Step on Mountaintop Removal
Decision to Review Certain Permits Will Save or Create Jobs, Protect Communities

Washington, DC: Tuesday’s announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that it will review certain permits for mountaintop removal coal mines something the Bush EPA never did is a strong first step in the complex effort to end this most destructive form of coal mining and to support Appalachia’s long-term economic vitality.

Conflicting media reports and multiple press releases Tuesday led some to question the impact of the EPA announcement.

"Make no mistake; the days of reckless, unchecked destruction of Appalachian mountains are numbered," said Mary Anne Hitt, Deputy Director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign. "There is much more work to do, but President Obama’s EPA has taken a bold first step on mountaintop removal coal mining."

Research suggests that efforts to limit and abolish mountaintop removal coal mining will benefit Appalachia’s economy. According to a March 2009 report by the Appalachian Regional Commission, energy efficiency programs could save billions of dollars and create thousands of jobs in Appalachia. Contrary to the talking points of Senator Byrd, Senator Rockefeller and Governor Manchin, mountaintop removal coal mining eliminates jobs as it destroys the land and long-term viability of the region.

"By using explosives and machines instead of good Appalachia labor, mountaintop removal coal mining eliminates jobs," said Vernon Haltom of Coal River Mountain Watch. "How can blowing up our communities be good for my family or for my children’s chances of getting a job here in the future?" he added.

Coalfield residents and grassroots organizations will keep pressuring public officials and mining companies to protect the jobs, streams and mountains of Appalachia.

“The Environmental Protection Agency has clearly demonstrated a bold shift in direction on mountaintop removal coal mining,” said Joe Lovett, attorney with Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment. “Now we will use this momentum to push for an end to this practice and a more sustainable future for our region.”

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