From the New York Times (thanks to Patrick):
“WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 — The Bush administration is set to issue a regulation on Friday that would enshrine the coal mining practice of mountaintop removal. The technique involves blasting off the tops of mountains and dumping the rubble into valleys and streams.
It has been used in Appalachian coal country for 20 years under a cloud of legal and regulatory confusion.
The new rule would allow the practice to continue and expand, providing only that mine operators minimize the debris and cause the least environmental harm, although those terms are not clearly defined and to some extent merely restate existing law. . .”
See the full article here.
Mountaintop removal mining is probably the most environmentally destructive way to obtain energy; companies destroy entire mountaintops and fill in valleys and streams in the remotest parts of Appalachia where the people are often too poor and underrepresented to stick up for themselves. The coal companies get away with this by ignoring laws or helping to ensure that environmental regulations are weak and nonexistent, but now the Bush administration is set to put the law on their side.