The coal industry and its friends accuse the Obama administration of waging a war on coal.
But the coal industry has been waging a war on water.
In announcing new guidelines for permitting mountaintop and other surface mines, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson cited a growing body of science that confirms what coalfield residents know:
Water quality has been significantly compromised and ecosystems permanently degraded. Streams have been rendered unfit for swimming, fishing and drinking and do not repair themselves when the mining stops.
"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," said Jackson, who promised to "work with all stakeholders to find a way forward that follows the science and the law."
"Getting this right," she said, "is important to Americans who rely on affordable coal to power homes and businesses, as well as coal communities that count on jobs and a livable environment."
That doesn't sound like a war on coal, though Jackson said that, to comply with the Clean Water Act, the industry will have to drastically reduce the filling of valleys and hollows with rubble from mining.
To read the complete editorial, visit www.kentucky.com.