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In a stunning development today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new guidance designed to protect Appalachian streams from mountaintop removal mining, by taking an important step to prevent the removed mountaintops from being dumped into streams and valleys. This is great news for Appalachia, and EARTHWORKS congratulates our allies for their hard work in bringing this issue to the forefront of the EPA’s attention, and we also applaud Lisa Jackson and her team at the EPA for recognizing the importance of protecting clean water.

The next logical step would be for the EPA fix the fill rule altogether and to include all mining, including hard rock mining, the industry that has topped the US Toxic Release Inventory list every year for the last decade.  Changing guidance documents is only a first step towards undoing the changes made by the Bush administration in 2002 that redefined mining waste as “fill” and then allowed this pollution to be dumped into America’s waterways. But Obama’s EPA can do more than issue guidance; it can do the same thing the Bush EPA did and change the rule altogether.

Ms. Jackson states in the EPA’s release today: “The people of Appalachia shouldn’t have to choose between a clean, healthy environment in which to raise their families and the jobs they need to support them. That’s why EPA is providing even greater clarity on the direction the agency is taking to confront pollution from mountain top removal.

The impact of mining is intense in, but not exclusive to Appalachia. No Americans should face this choice between the environment and jobs; no streams should be dumped with the waste from mining. 

Click here to send a letter to Lisa Jackson today, and ask her to fix the fill rule to ensure that valleys, streams and drinking water throughout America are kept clean from mining.