"CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dozens of coal-mining permits proposed across Appalachia need much more scrutiny because of concerns they will illegally damage water quality, the Obama administration said Friday.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials announced that they would conduct more detailed reviews of 79 permit applications that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had proposed to approve in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio.
The move won strong praise from environmental groups, who have hoped President Obama would end a more than decade-long battle by banning mountaintop removal altogether.
In all, the EPA put the brakes on nearly 60 square miles of permits that would bury more than 170 miles of streams to get at about 290 million tons of coal, the rough equivalent of two years' worth of West Virginia's annual production. Forty-nine of the permits are in Kentucky, 23 in West Virginia, six in Ohio and one in Tennessee."