Thank the EPA, and Tell it to Finally End Mountaintop Removal

In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, it might be a good idea to be thankful today for a federal Environmental Protection Agency that’s actually willing to protect the environment from industry energy and emissions practices—at least some of the time. Under the leadership of EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, the agency charged with protecting US air and water quality has finally begun to crack down on polluters after years of negligence. US citizens now have until the end of the month to let decision makers know we want the EPA to continue pushing large corporations to do business better. Think of it as an opportunity to say “thank you” to the EPA for cracking down on polluters, and to let the agency know its job is not yet done.

December 1st marks the end of the public comment period for draft guidelines on mountaintop removal coal mining the EPA issued in April. If fully enforced, these guidelines could put a near or complete stop to this incredibly destructive mining practice, which has destroyed ecosystems and polluted community water supplies throughout the Appalachian region. Unsurprisingly coal companies are trying to weaken the regulations as much as possible, in hopes that they’ll be able to continue an activity with a truly horrendous energy and emissions footprint. If you’re not familiar with what mountaintop removal entails it’s exactly what the name suggests: blowing off mountaintops with explosives to expose and mine underground coal seams.

While Lisa Jackson’s EPA has been rolling out new air emissions standards for power plants and vehicles, mountaintop removal has been one area where the agency is still a bit weak. Dashing hopes that the Obama administration would end mountaintop removal mining almost immediately on taking office, the EPA has allowed this dirty energy and emissions practice to continue for almost two years. Last April was a breakthrough moment for the agency, and gave environmentalists hope the EPA might stop mountaintop removal after all. But given the EPA’s history, there’s a very real chance it could cave again to industry pressure and weaken draft guidelines now under consideration.

Whether you’re an environmental advocate concerned about coal’s effects on air and water quality, a sustainable business entrepreneur who thinks there’s a better use for Appalachian ecosystems than blowing them up, or a concerned citizen or representative of an organization, now is the time to contact the EPA. Submit your comments to the EPA at this email address: In the subject line make sure to refer to the docket number for the mountaintop removal guidelines, which is EPA-HQ-OW-2010-0315. Now is a chance to tell the EPA “thank you” for getting serious about air and water quality, and to finally go the extra mile and end mountaintop removal coal mining for good.

Photo credit: Nicholas on Flickr