Thursday, June 02, 2005

press release: clean water protection act


JUNE 2, 2005

CONTACT: Andrew Souvall or Jennifer Cannata, Rep. Frank Pallone, 202-225-4671
Mary Anne Hitt, Executive Director, Appalachian Voices, 540-239-0073
Janice Nease, Executive Director, Coal River Mountain Watch, 304-854-2182

The Clean Water Protection Act, H.R. 2719, has just been introduced by Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Christopher Shays (R-CT), and 53 other members into the United States House of Representatives.

The bill will protect communities and water quality by outlawing the dumping of mining waste into streams.

The legislation was introduced to address a 2002 executive rule change that altered the long-standing definition of "fill material" in the Clean Water Act. The new definition allows mining waste to be used to fill streams, an attempt to legalize the filling of Appalachian mountain valleys with countless tons of mountaintop removal coal mining waste.

"Congress meant for the Clean Water Act to protect our nation's water resources; the Administrative rule change endangers those resources," said Rep. Pallone, the author of the legislation. "The dangerous precedent set by the Administration's rule change undermines the Clean Water Act. I've proposed the Clean Water Protection Act so the Bush Administration can no longer use our nation's waterways as dumping grounds for industrial waste."

Mary Anne Hitt, executive director of the regional conservation group Appalachian Voices, stated, "Mountaintop removal mining has already obliterated hundreds of thousands of acres of mountain forests and buried over 1,000 miles of streams. Mountaintop removal is not only destroying one of the richest ecosystems on earth, but it is terrorizing families in the coalfields."

Janice Nease, executive director of the coalfield citizens' group Coal River Mountain Watch, continued, "From flooding to blasting to coal dust to dangerous sludge dams, the families in the coalfields are under siege as a result of mountaintop removal coal mining. We need Congress to take action to protect our safety, security, and rights as United States citizens."

An editorial by the Harrisburg (PA) Patriot News published on May 25 echoed that sentiment, stating, "Such environmental destruction as [mountaintop removal] - and we've barely touched on its full ramifications - should not be allowed in the United States of America. Indeed, it should not be allowed anywhere on this planet where there exists an ounce of respect for the land or even a modest concern for the people who call it home. This type of mining needs to be stopped in its tracks. And only Congress can do that."

For more information, go to