September 22, 2009: Urgent Action: Tell the EPA to stop valley fill permits permanently!

You have pushed the EPA to take real steps against mountaintop removal. Friday, September 11, the EPA decided that of all 79 mountaintop removal permits they were reviewing, none of them should be approved in their current form!

This temporary stay of execution is a historic step: the biggest any agency has ever taken to end the devastating practice of mountaintop removal. We have achieved it thanks to the years of organizing and outcry from you and tens of thousands of allies across the country.

But now is a crucial time to make sure that this temporary reprieve becomes a permanent change. While the EPA regional offices review the permits in their area, the EPA has opened a 14-day comment period.

Please take a moment to thank the EPA for this important step and ask them to stop all permitting of valley fills?
You can submit official comments at ilovemountains.org.

Comments are needed by the end of this week!

You can find a sample letter below — feel free to borrow talking points, and to add your own personal comments for a greater impact.

(sample letter provided by Coal River Mountain Watch)

SAMPLE LETTER:

Thank you for doing the right thing so far by holding all 79 mountaintop removal valley fill permit applications for further review with the Army Corps and providing science-based oversight which will limit the devastating environmental impacts of mountaintop removal mining. I encourage the EPA to use its veto authority to stop all permitting of valley fills associated with strip mining in Appalachia.

According to the EPA’s own scientific studies, there are many problems associated with valley fills, which have already buried and polluted nearly 2,000 miles of streams across Appalachia. Randy Pomponio, Director of the EPA’s Environmental Assessment and Innovation Division in the Mid-Atlantic Region 3, recently testified to the United States Senate Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife about the negative impacts that mountaintop removal and valley fills have on water quality. He described high selenium levels and deformities in fish downstream from mountaintop removal sites. Margaret Palmer, an environmental scientist for over 25 years, also testified that stream “restoration” efforts by mine sites completely fail to even approximate the qualities and function of the original streams.

Given the significant impact of federal actions on mountaintop removal mining, I urge you to closely evaluate the NEPA process to ensure that all major federal actions undergo an EIS with significant citizen input. Already countless coalfield residents have documented the devastating social, health, environmental, and economic effects of mountaintop removal. Until these concerns are thoroughly studied, and cumulative impacts are taken into consideration, no mountaintop removal permit applications should go forward. I urge you, if need be, to you to use your veto power to stop future permits from destroying any more mountains, waterways, and communities.

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