Federal Court Reverses Spruce Mine Veto, Opening Massive Mountaintop Removal Site

Obama’s people must think he has the election in the bag. And who wouldn’t when his main rivals are a walking etch o sketch, a looney tune looking to outlaw contraception and Newt Gingrich, the GOP’s version of Rick James.

Otherwise would he be selling out his base and extreme energy impacted communities to oil and coal?  We already know he’s fast tracking the Keystone XL pipeline’s permit process so it can be built from Cushing, OK through East Texas to the Port of Houston.  But now another round of disturbing news is hitting the news cycle that an Obama appointed federal judge, Amy Berman Jackson, has reversed last year’s Spruce Mine veto.

Jackson ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exceeded its authority when it vetoed the mine in Jan. 2011. I guess preventing the poisoning people in their homes doesn’t really fall under the “protection” section in the EPA’s mission.

This reversal will turn this West Virginia site into the largest mountaintop removal mine in North America. Spruce Mine will destroy 2,278 acres of temperate rainforest and bury 7.5 miles of streams in the Spruce Fork sub-watershed. It will contribute to the ongoing health crisis already wrecking Appalachians’ lives every day. And it will breathe some last gasps of air into the lungs of the already dead Appalachian coal industry.

For a brief moment in 2009, I had a little “hope” that the extreme energy sacrifice zone of Appalachia’s mountains and communities would see some “change.”

But now, my only thought is “Who needs the GOP when you have Barack Obama?

3 Responses to “Federal Court Reverses Spruce Mine Veto, Opening Massive Mountaintop Removal Site”

  1. 1 Rick Mar 24th, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    So this is absolutely tragic and a huge step backwards.

    But the link between Jackson’s decision and the Obama administration is somewhere between extremely tenuous and basically non-existent.

    Yes, Obama nominated her to the bench- about seven months before the Spruce permit was initially revoked.

    To suggest any connection to the Obama administration is to suggest that the administration vetted her on the basis of how she would rule on a single, specific decision that hadn’t even been made yet, and wouldn’t be made for half a year.

    Indeed, the Obama administration properly understood in this case would be the EPA- you know, the ones who made the extremely ballsy move of revoking the permit in the first place, despite the fact that the EPA had never before used its authority under the Clean Water Act to revoke a permit for a coal mining project.

    There’s lots and lots of room to criticize the Obama administration on its environmental record- but in this case the Obama administration was leading the charge.

  2. 2 roostergoodwin Mar 25th, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Well said Rick. I also do not believe it is fair to criticize Obama on the basis of this decision. If it were not for the veto the people living in Blair, WV would be 100 percent surrounded by MTR. The Spruce permit mined over 60 million dollars worth of coal and none of that went to the impacted community of Blair.

    From my understanding Arch was prohibited from disturbing waters of the United States outside of Seng Camp Branch where mining started in 2008. Despite what the industry has said. Mining employment on the spruce mine has increased since it began in 2008. In 2011 after the veto. In 2010, 29 people were employed by the mine. In 2011, 38 people were employed by the mine. Production also increased by 38 percent from 2010 to 2011.

  1. 1 Appalachians Vow to Continue Supporting EPA’s Effort to Protect Waterways and Communities from Mountaintop Removal Mining | Climate of Our Future Trackback on Mar 26th, 2012 at 9:14 am
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Scott Parkin is a Senior Campaigner with Rainforest Action Network and organizes with Rising Tide North America. He has worked on a variety of campaigns around climate change, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, mountaintop removal, labor issues and anti-corporate globalization. Originally from Texas, he now lives in San Francisco.

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