Washington Post: The Environmental Protection Agency took the unusual step of revoking a permit Thursday for the country’s largest surface mine, a setback for the controversial practice of “mountaintop removal” that helps produce 10 percent of the nation’s coal.
The 2,300-acre operation at the Mingo Logan Coal Co.’s Spruce No. 1 coal mine in West Virginia has been mired in litigation since 1998.
The EPA’s decision could affect dozens of other mining projects across Appalachia, where firms have been blasting the peaks off mountains for years to reach coal seams and then depositing the remaining rubble in surrounding valleys. While the federal government issued permits for hundreds of these activities under the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, the EPA adopted new environmental guidelines in April and is now reviewing 33 other pending permits.
The EPA’s assistant administrator for water, Peter S. Silva, said the Spruce No. 1 coal mine … “would use destructive and unsustainable mining practices that jeopardize the health of Appalachian communities and clean water on which they depend.”
…The EPA used its authority under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act – which it has used only 12 other times in its history – to argue that the subsequent valley fills would harm the area’s water quality, habitat and wildlife.
President Barack Obama talks with Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communication, and Director of Speechwriting Jon Favreau, in the Outer Oval Office, Jan. 13, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
An Open Letter to Parents Following the Tragedy in Tucson
Like so many Americans all across the country, Barack and I were shocked and heartbroken by the horrific act of violence committed in Arizona this past weekend. Yesterday, we had the chance to attend a memorial service and meet with some of the families of those who lost their lives, and both of us were deeply moved by their strength and resilience in the face of such unspeakable tragedy.
As parents, an event like this hits home especially hard. It makes our hearts ache for those who lost loved ones. It makes us want to hug our own families a little tighter. And it makes us think about what an event like this says about the world we live in – and the world in which our children will grow up.
In the days and weeks ahead, as we struggle with these issues ourselves, many of us will find that our children are struggling with them as well. The questions my daughters have asked are the same ones that many of your children will have – and they don’t lend themselves to easy answers….
….We can teach them the value of tolerance – the practice of assuming the best, rather than the worst, about those around us. We can teach them to give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly those with whom they disagree.
…We can explain to them that although we might not always agree with those who represent us, anyone who enters public life does so because they love their country and want to serve it.
Christina Green felt that call. She was just nine years old when she lost her life….
And that’s something else we can do for our children – we can tell them about Christina and about how much she wanted to give back. We can tell them about John Roll, a judge with a reputation for fairness; about Dorothy Morris…. And we can work together to honor their legacy by following their example – by embracing our fellow citizens; by standing up for what we believe is right; and by doing our part, however we can, to serve our communities and our country.
(I confidently predict right wing OUTRAGE over this wonderful letter, particularly about the passages marked in red – “Look, look, she’s blaming us!” But then again, when was there ever no OUTRAGE from the right over anything the Obamas have ever said and done?? Thank you, First Lady)