The Bush administration, our Protector of the Environment, is submitting a new rule (NYT article) that would expand the right of coal companies to use a technique called mountaintop mining. While apparently safer than underground mining, it wreaks havoc on the landscape. Basically, the idea is this: you hack the tops off of mountains, extract the coal, and then dump all the rocks and leftovers in lower areas. Here’s a good collection of pictures that gives you an idea of just what this technique does to the countryside.
I’m no proponent of underground mining, but you’d think all the money these companies spend hacking off the tops of mountains (turning purple mountain majesties into fruited plains, if you will) would be enough to figure out how to use alternative energies. Perhaps they plan to grow corn for ethanol on top of the ex-mountains after it’s all over. A noble plan! Sheesh.
By the way, all federal regulations, including this one, are subject to a comment period. The idea is to make the agency take into account the public’s views, and then perhaps make changes to the regulation. This implies an open-minded approach, wouldn’t you say? Which is why I find it particularly interesting that “officials indicated that [the regulation] was not likely to be changed substantially” after the comment period. Hmmm. Sounds open-minded to me.
You might be thinking that this regulation is being proposed in response to the recent mining tragedies in Utah and China. If so, you are wrong. According to the article, the Bush administration has been working on this for six years.
What a coincidence that the regulation is coming out now.