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Christian groups appeal to Obama and the EPA
to cease mountaintop removal coal mining

Washington, March 12, 2010 -- A coalition of 28 Christian groups from across denominations sent a letter today to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calling for immediate action to stop further mountaintop removal coal mining.


Mountaintop removal coal mining is a devastating process where coal companies blast the tops off mountains to get at thin seams of coal. It was effectively legalized in 2002 when the Bush administration rolled back Clean Water Act protections, creating a loophole in the “fill rule” to allow coal companies to dump the waste generated by the blasting into nearby streams.


The groups are asking EPA to close the Clean Water Act loophole and restore the original Clean Water Act protections, which would prohibit coal companies from masquerading their waste as “fill.” 


"As Christians, we are called to be good stewards of God’s creation, to love and care for our neighbors, and to speak out against injustice," said Peter Illyn, Executive Director of the Christian environmental ministry, Restoring Eden. "As Appalachia's communities and ecosystem suffers, we feel called by our faith to speak out against the unnecessary practice of mountaintop removal coal mining. We believe only God should move mountains. Closing the Clean Water Act loophole is a good first step."


More than 470 mountains in Appalachia have been destroyed by mountaintop removal mining and the practice has filled and destroyed approximately 2,000 miles of streams to date.  As a result, communities throughout Appalachia suffer from polluted drinking water, increased flooding, damage to homes and buildings from the blasts and a devastated landscape. The increase in mountaintop removal mining has also meant a decrease in jobs as people are replaced with machines.


Recent research in the journal Science found the impacts of mountaintop removal to be "pervasive and irreversible, and that mitigation cannot compensate for losses" to the natural world. Yet the practice continues and many permits for new mine sites are currently before the EPA.


"To prevent further devastation, we are calling on the EPA to move forward with a new Clean Water Act rule to prevent the use of mining waste as 'fill material,' which is then dumped into Appalachian streams," said Jordan Blevins, Lands and Water Program Manager for the National Council of Churches. "As part of our call to be stewards of creation, we have a duty to use the land responsibly, to manage it so that it serves the good of all, and to protect it for future generations and for all life. Establishing the Clean Water Act rule is one step in doing that."


Anna Jane Joyner, Restoring Eden, 360-901-6526, 

Jordan Blevins, National Council of Churches, 202-481-6943,

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell) ,

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