EPA moves to halt 'mountaintop removal' coal mining

Using a proposed mine in Kentucky and one in West Virginia as examples, the federal Environmental Protection Agency signaled Tuesday that it is cracking down on mountaintop removal coal mining.

The agency released letters it had sent the day before to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that challenged permits requested by the mines.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said she had "considerable concern regarding the environmental impact these projects would have on fragile habitats and streams."

She also said the EPA will review other mining permits, using "the best science" and following "the letter of the law."

Environmentalists hailed the move as a sharp break from the eight years of the Bush administration.

"I think it's very positive — just the kind of thing the EPA should have been saying," said Joe Lovett, executive director for the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment.

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