January 25, 2011 New York Times
Before blocking one of Appalachia’s largest-ever mountaintop coal-mining projects this month, U.S. EPA agreed to allow blasting to start on a half-a-dozen other mountaintop mines. EPA’s compromises show nuanced exceptions to the Obama administration’s tough approach to mountaintop mining: Companies that agree to blast in phases, one at a time, while monitoring and mitigating for environmental damage are more likely to get the green light. A peer-reviewed study published last January in the journal Science found higher incidents of heart problems, cancer and death among both men and women in the vicinity of mountaintop mining operations (E&ENews PM, Jan. 7, 2010). Further investigation is under way. EPA and West Virginia’s state environmental agency last week awarded $600,000 to West Virginia University to investigate mountaintop mining’s effects on local watersheds.