Democratic News

Mountaintop Removal & Valley Fills  
February 16th, 2010
 
Surface mining in the mountainous areas of Appalachia is an important source of coal production.  This method of mining – often called mountaintop removal mining – generates controversy due to its scale and the post-mining appearance of the land.
 
Despite the attention that surface mining has received over the years, there still are concerns about the way in which operations are conducted.  Last June, Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the characteristics of mountaintop mining in four Appalachian states -- Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia – with a focus on financial assurances under existing laws.  GAO released its report today, here is Bingaman’s reaction:
 
Chairman Bingaman: “Mountaintop removal mining has lasting and far-reaching effects on surrounding lands and streams.  This GAO review documents the extent of these effects and the mechanisms now in place to evaluate their impacts over time.  The results reinforce my belief that we need to take a close look at the quality of long-term monitoring and the financial assurances we require from the industry to ensure that any problems are promptly remediated.  I plan to ask Secretary Salazar for his views on what improvements may be needed in these areas when he testifies before the Committee next month on the Interior Department budget.”
 
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