Mountain Removal in Kentucky
It’s been a common practice in Kentucky for coal mining companies to lop off the tops of mountains, with the rocks and dirt being dumped into valleys and streams. This process is being used more and more because of its speed and efficiency.
Kentuckians For The Commonwealth and two other groups have now filed suit to force the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop issuing permits allowing the dumping. One of the plaintiffs described the situation as “an outrageous abuse of their power and neglect of their duty to protect the nation’s waterways.”
The president of the Kentucky Coal Association claims that mining companies would be hampered in their ability to work if the lawsuit is successful.
A similar lawsuit was filed in West Virginia in 2002. A judge ordered the Corps of Engineers to stop issuing these permits; the decision has been appealed.
The plaintiffs say that in the past three years the Corps has rubber-stamped more than 50 permits for valley fills that will destroy more than 35 miles of streams. The suit says the Corps is violating the Clean Water Act by issuing these permits.
A resident of the area said she is surrounded by mountaintop removal mining operations. She said “I live with what the coal industry does to the land and the people every day. You can cut a tree. It will grow back. You cut the top off a mountain and it’s gone forever.”