Writing in the journal Science, scientists from a range of disciplines and institutions are calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stop issuing mountaintop coal mining permits. The scientists synthesized data and conducted new studies to assess the breadth of environmental impacts from this type of mining. Duke University biogeochemist Emily Bernhardt says one of the top concerns is filling adjacent valleys with the mining waste, or spoil.
“We estimate conservatively that more than 1500 miles of Appalachian headwater streams have been lost due to direct filling or the direct impacts of building sediment ponds associated with mountaintop mining.”
In a separate announcement, Kentucky’s Energy and Environmental Protection Cabinet announced new guidelines for reducing the amount of valley fills.