Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP), a national grassroots organization, opposes a proposed Interior Department regulation that would perpetuate and expand the destructive practice of mountaintop removal coal mining.
REP maintains that nothing can justify a practice that flattens the ancient mountains of Appalachia and fills in hundreds of miles of mountain streams with mining waste.
“There is nothing even remotely conservative about allowing special-interest greed to trump our fundamental duty as stewards of God’s own handiwork,” said David Jenkins, REP Government Affairs Director.
“The administration would do well to take its cue from the great conservative scholar Russell Kirk. He wrote, ‘Only the unscrupulous or shortsighted can defend pollution and degradation of the countryside.'”
Jenkins added, “It is hard to imagine anything more arrogant or sacrilegious than blasting off mountaintops for short-term profit and convenience. This type of damage can never be repaired.”
A recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report found that mountaintop removal has severe impacts on nearby communities. Wells are contaminated or dried up, leaving people without any reliable source of water. Homes are damaged or lost from cracks in walls and foundations caused by blasting. Airborne coal dust is a constant health concern.
“It is clearly not in the long-term public interest to forever disfigure the world’s oldest mountains, bury more than 1,000 miles of Appalachian streams, and wreck communities and their traditional mountain culture, just to enable coal companies to cut corners,” said Jim DiPeso, REP Policy Director.
DiPeso added, “If the price was right, would we also think it wise to blast away the Great Smoky Mountains or the Grand Tetons?”
The practice of dumping mining waste into streams would create a gaping loophole in the Clean Water Act.
“The loophole that allows coal mining companies to use the waters of the United States as free garbage cans needs to be closed,” DiPeso said.
A bill that would help is the bipartisan Clean Water Protection Act (HR 2169).
“This bill would re-affirm the original intent of the Clean Water Act by explicitly barring the use of water bodies as waste dumps,” Jenkins said. “We thank Congressmen Wayne Gilchrest (MD), John McHugh (NY), Todd Platts (PA), and Christopher Shays (CT) for co-sponsoring this important legislation.”
REP strongly urges President Bush to withdraw this unconscionable regulation and request congressional passage of HR 2169.
“To waste, to destroy, our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them.”
President Theodore Roosevelt, Seventh Message to Congress, December 3, 1907