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EPA Restricts Mountaintop Removal

Last week through some procedural tomfoolery, Rep. Joe McCord of Maryville managed to adjourn the House Environment Subcommittee for the year without voting on the TN Scenic Vistas Protection Act, which would have prevented altering ridge lines above 2,000 ft. and effectively banned mountaintop removal.

This move came as a great disappointment to many. But then, just a couple of days later, the Environmental Protection Agency announced sweeping changes to guidelines surrounding the protection of watersheds and streams, in essence making illegal much of the mountaintop removal that occurs in the region today. It seemed TN lost a key legislative battle but Appalachia won a much more decisive victory in the federal sphere.
Dawn Coppock, the legislative director of the Lindquist Environmental Appalachian Fellowship, which was behind the Scenic Vistas Act, sent a celebratory note out today describing the EPA move and what it means for Tennessee. The long and short of it is that with the EPA decision, Coppock says the state legislation may not be necessary, but that they'll wait until the next session to make that determination.

Much of the environmental news last week focused on Obama's decisions to open parts of the continental shelf up to oil drilling and his call to implement higher emission standards for automakers. But this EPA decision has a far greater and more immediate impact on this area and represents a major step to protecting regional resources. 

Here are a few more articles about the EPA decision and its likely impact on MTR:

New York Times

Washington Post

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