Mountaintop mining proposals to face more stringent review

A new Obama administration plan for more stringent reviews of mountaintop surface-mining permits in Appalachia will reduce environmental damage in an "unprecedented" way, federal officials said Thursday.

Bill Caylor of the Kentucky Coal Association said the change could mean more red tape for coal companies and the agencies that regulate them. Environmentalists said the plan doesn't go far enough to protect headwater streams from having mining waste dumped in them. Many environmentalists had hoped that President Barack Obama would move quickly to end, or at least severely limit, large-scale surface mining on the steep slopes of Appalachia. What was proposed Thursday fell far short of that.

"The mountains are still getting blown up, and the streams are still getting buried," said Joan Mulhern, senior legislative attorney for Earthjustice. "Until the White House announces that it will stop the blowing up of mountains and burying of streams, we cannot support their policies, regardless of what process is used to review the mines on a case-by-case basis."

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