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Oppose Mountaintop Removal
Co-op America Urges Concerned Americans to Oppose "Mountaintop Removal" Mining As Part of National "No New Coal" Campaign

October 19, 2007

Washington, DC --The nonprofit Co-op America is urging its 100,000 members and other concerned Americans to send a strong message to Washington in opposition to the huge harm done to the environment by mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining.   The federal Office of Surface Mining (OSM) is accepting through November 23, 2007 comments on a “stream buffer zone” rule change that would allow the coal industry to inflict even more MTR-related damage.

Comments can be submitted through the Co-op America Web site at /takeaction/mountaintopremoval/index.cfm.
 
Co-op America Climate Change Program Coordinator Yochanan Zakai said:   “Co-op America’s plan to combat global warming calls for a moratorium on coal.  Coal is the dirtiest of all fossil fuels -- it creates more pollution than oil, natural gas and gasoline when burned.  As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said recently, ‘There's not a coal-fired plant in America that's clean. They're all dirty.’  If we’re going to get serious about fighting global warming, we need to put the brakes on the coal industry. Mountaintop removal mining flattens mountains, devastating communities and ecosystems in Appalachia.  A biologically diverse habitat is being destroyed, and the rich Appalachian culture it inspired is threatened. It is a deadly ‘lose-lose’ situation for climate change -- accelerating coal burning and deforestation.”

Coal River Mountain Watch Co-Director Vernon Haltom explained:  “Mountaintop removal threatens my community while eliminating the renewable resources needed for our long-term sustainability and economic prosperity.  With this change to the Stream Buffer Zone rule, the Bush Administration is taking clean water away from American citizens and handing mining companies the right to destroy our mountains.”

The Co-op America Web site explains that MTR removal coal mining has been facilitated by the Bush administration’s disregard of a Reagan-era regulation, known as the “stream buffer zone” rule.  This rule prohibits any mining activities to take place within 100 feet of a stream unless it can be proven that water quality and quantity will not be adversely impacted.  According to official estimates, the Bush Administration has blatantly disregarded this rule by permitting the destruction of 535 miles of streams since taking office.

Zakai said:  “The Bush administration is now proposing to repeal the steam buffer zone rule and give mountaintop removal mining companies a blank check to dump toxic waste and hundreds of millions of tons of mountain remains directly into steams. You can help stop the destruction of Appalachia’s communities, mountains and streams by saying ‘No!’ to King Coal.”

The prepared letter on the Co-op America Web site reads, in part, as follows:  “As a concerned consumer, investor and citizen, I am appalled to learn that the Bush administration is planning to repeal the stream buffer zone rule.  This rule affords protection to aquatic life immediately surrounding mines by prohibiting destructive coal-mining operations within 100 feet of a stream.  The Bush administration should withdraw this attempt to weaken stream protections and, instead, start aggressively enforcing the existing stream buffer zone rule … Over 2,000 miles of streams have already been destroyed as a result of relaxed enforcement of the stream buffer rules.  It is high time for the Bush administration to propose rules based on sound science and protect the communities of Appalachia rather than allowing for their continued destruction.”

ABOUT CO-OP AMERICA

Co-op America is a non-profit membership organization founded in 1982 with the mission to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—and to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. 

ABOUT COAL RIVER MOUNTAIN WATCH - http://www.crmw.net/

The mission of Coal River Mountain Watch (CRMW) is to stop the destruction of communities and the environment by mountaintop removal mining, to improve the quality of life in communities and to help rebuild sustainable communities. CRMW  envisions just and caring communities in which residents  are aware of and involved  in solving community issues and in which public officials and agencies fulfill their  responsibility to provide sustainable forms of economic development and a healthy, safe environment.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Patrick Mitchell, (703) 276-3266 or pmitchell@hastingsgroup.com.  


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