EPA vetoes major mountaintop removal mining project

It’s the first time that EPA has used its veto authority under the Clean Water Act to stop a project that has already been approved. The project was approved in 2007 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but has been caught up in litigation for years. It's also the latest move by the Obama administration to turn a critical eye toward mountaintop removal mining.

In mountaintop removal, portions of a mountain are blown off using dynamite to expose valuable coal reserves. The rock and sediment from the mine often falls into nearby rivers, raising water quality concerns.

The mining industry is already objecting to EPA’s decision. “EPA has taken this unprecedented action — never before contemplated in the nearly 40 years since the enactment of the Clean Water Act — at a time of great economic uncertainty,” National Mining Association President Hal Quinn said in a statement. NMA urges the administration to "step back from this unwarranted action and restore trust in the sanctity of lawfully granted and abided by permits and the jobs and economic activity they support."

EPA notes it is only the 13th time it has ever exercised its veto authority.