"U.S. Court Blocks Plan To Curb Mountaintop Mining"

"A U.S. court on Wednesday blocked an attempt by the Obama administration to overturn a Bush administration rule that made it easier for coal mining companies to dump mountaintop debris into valley streams.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said that the Interior Department's request to vacate the regulation would have allowed the federal government to wrongfully bypass 'established statutory procedures for repealing an agency rule.'

Federal agencies have to follow certain procedures, including collecting public comments, before repealing government regulations, the ruling said.

Raising environmental concerns, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called on the courts in April to withdraw the rule that allowed coal mine operators to dispose of excess mountaintop debris in and within 100 feet of nearby streams whenever alternative options are deemed 'not reasonably possible.'"

Ayesha Rascoe reports for Reuters August 12, 2009.

Thursday, August 13, 2009