"The Obama administration on Thursday imposed strict new environmental guidelines that are expected to sharply curtail 'mountaintop' coal mining, a controversial practice that has enriched Appalachia's economy while rearranging its topography.
The announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency ended months of bureaucratic limbo on the issue. It was hailed by environmentalists but condemned by coal industry officials, who said it would render a technique that generates about 10 percent of U.S. coal largely impractical.
At 'mountaintop removal' mines, which are unique to Appalachian states, miners blast the peaks off mountains to reach coal seams inside and then pile vast quantities of rubble in surrounding valleys. Under the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, hundreds of such sites received federal permits."
David A. Fahrenthold reports for the Washington Post Friday, April 2, 2010.
"Mountaintop Removal ‘Clarity’: OK, So Now What?" (Coal Tattoo)