On this day of tragedy for the people of Appalachia, I thought it might be good to hold up a sign of hope that the hold of coal mining on the people and place of Appalachia might be losing its hold. On Thursday of last week, what can only be described as an Easter miracle for the people of Appalachia, as well as the mountains, was announced by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a set of actions to further clarify and strengthen environmental permitting requirements for Appalachian mountaintop removal and other surface coal mining projects, in coordination with federal and state regulatory agencies. Using the best available science and following the law, the comprehensive guidance sets clear benchmarks for preventing significant and irreversible damage to Appalachian watersheds at risk from mining activity.
Administrator Jackson went on to note that it was a false choice between jobs and care for Creation that the people of Appalachia have been being asked to make. In a letter to Administrator Jackson sent on March 12th, the faith community said, “All Americans should have equal access to a just economic system and a healthy environment, yet this is not being realized in Appalachia and the situation is getting increasingly worse. We, therefore, ask the Obama administration to demonstrate the wisdom and fortitude needed to stop this injustice.” In making this change, it appears the EPA has heeded this call.
The faith community has been a steady and continuous voice calling for an end to MTR, and these steps by the EPA bring hope that that voice is being heard. However, don’t let it stop there. Click here to take this opportunity to call on Congress to make the change in the Clean Water Act permanent. Let this Easter miracle continue to speak for the people of Appalachia.