Washington, DC (January 8, 2010) Based on a comprehensive analysis of the latest scientific findings and new data, a group of the nation's leading environmental scientists are calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S Army Corps of Engineers to stay all new mountaintop mining permits. In today's edition of the journal Science, they argue that peer-reviewed research unequivocally documents irreversible environmental impacts from this form of mining which also exposes local residents to a higher risk of serious health problems.
The authors hydrologists, ecologists and engineers are internationally recognized scientists, including several members of the National Academy of Sciences. They argue that the U.S. should take a global leadership role on the issue, as surface mining in many developing countries is expected to grow extensively in the next decade.
"The scientific evidence of the severe environmental and human impacts from mountaintop mining is strong and irrefutable," says lead author Dr. Margaret Palmer of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and University of Maryland, College Park. "Its impacts are pervasive and long lasting and there is no evidence that any mitigation practices successfully reverse the damage it causes."
In mountaintop mining, upper elevation forests are cleared and stripped of topsoil, and explosives are used to break up rocks in order to access coal buried below. Much of this rock is pushed into adjacent valleys where it buries and obliterates streams. Mountaintop mining with valley fills (MTM/VF) is widespread throughout eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, and southwestern Virginia.
In their paper, the authors outline severe environmental degradation taking place at mining sites and downstream. The practice destroys extensive tracts of deciduous forests and buries small streams that play essential roles in the overall health of entire watershed
|Contact: Christopher Conner|
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science