EPA Issues Final Guidance to Protect Water Quality in Appalachian Communities

July 22, 2011
Agency seeks to regulate impacts of mountaintop mining to protect the environment and public health

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released final guidance on Appalachian surface coal mining, designed to ensure more consistent, effective and timely review of surface coal mining permits under the Clean Water Act and other statutes.

The guidance, which replaces the interim-final guidance issued by EPA on April 1, 2010, is based on the best-available science and incorporates input and feedback from more than 60,000 comments received from the public and key stakeholders.

By providing EPA’s regional offices with the latest information on existing legal requirements, the guidance enables them to work together with states, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, mining companies and the public towards a balanced approach that protects communities from harmful pollution associated with coal mining.

EPA will apply the guidance flexibly, taking into account site-specific information and additional science to arrive at the best decisions on a case-by-case basis.

EPA’s final guidance reflects significantly enhanced science, extensive public comment and experience working with federal and state agencies and mining companies. It is based on improved, peer-reviewed science on impacts of mountaintop mining, extensive public and stakeholder input, and lessons learned from the implementation of the interim guidance.

The final guidance, like the interim guidance, is not a rule and is not binding legally or in practice.

Source: EPA