From Reuters:

_The Bush administration is easing the way for coal companies to dump debris from mountaintop mining into nearby valleys and streams in a move deplored by environmental and Appalachian citizens’ groups. . . .

“The EPA’s own scientists have concluded that dumping mining waste into streams devastates downstream water quality,” said Ed Hopkins of the Sierra Club. “By signing off on a rule to eliminate a critical safeguard for streams, the EPA has abdicated its responsibility and left the local communities that depend on these waters at risk.”

Some 126 million tons of coal came from U.S. mountaintop mining in 2007, accounting for 10 percent of U.S. coal production, said Carol Raulston of the National Mining Association.

Raulston disputed the environmentalists’ charges, saying the new rule was “merely a clarification of what is required in order to conduct any type of mining activity.”_

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