Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) along with Congressman David Reichert (R-WA) and Congressman John Yarmuth (D-KY) Tuesday reintroduced the Clean Water Protection Act, legislation with bipartisan support that would prevent industrial mining waste from entering the water supply and harming human and environmental health.
"I remain committed to passing this legislation which will alleviate the wide array of human health issues directly correlated with mountaintop removal coal mining," said Pallone. "By restoring the Clean Water Act to its original intent and redefining fill material, we'll be able to keep toxic mining waste out of our nation's streams."
The legislation will redefine "fill material" to exclude mining waste materials and will clarify environmental law to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation's waters.
Mountaintop removal is a mining method where the top of a mountain is blown off to extract thin seams of coal. It permanently destroys streams, forests and mountains. The broken rock, or "excess spoil" from this process is usually dumped into nearby valleys, creating "valley fills" that cover thousands of acres of land and bury thousands of miles of streams.
Numerous health problems associated with exposure to these chemicals and heavy metals in fill material include cancer, organ failure and learning disabilities.
In January, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a decision to halt proposed disposal of mountaintop mining waste into West Virginia streams by Mingo-Logan Coal Company's Spruce Mine No. 1 located in the south west region of West Virginia. Exercising this authority demonstrates the agency's willingness to enforce tough regulations such as those proposed in the Clean Water Protection Act.
Residents who live in coal country do not deserve the devastation that this unnecessary practice causes, Pallone added.