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Obama seeks reversal of mountaintop mining rule

•  National News     updated  2009/04/27 09:02


The Obama administration is taking steps to reverse a last-minute Bush-era rule that allows mountaintop mining waste to be dumped near streams.


Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Monday the administration will ask a federal court to abandon the rule that made it easier for coal mining companies to dump waste near streams. If the court agrees, the Obama administration could start drafting a new regulation that better protects waterways and communities sooner than if it sought to rewrite the measure itself.

Salazar said the rule, finalized with a little more than a month before President George W. Bush left office, was bad policy. Two lawsuits pending in federal court sought to block or overturn the rule. The Obama administration's decision puts the federal government in the rare position of siding with the parties that filed the lawsuits.

"The responsible development of our coal supplies is important to America's energy security," Salazar said in a conference call with reporters. "But as we develop these reserves we must also protect our treasured landscapes, our land, our water and our wildlife."

Earthjustice, which represents the plaintiffs in one of the lawsuits, accused Salazar of attempting to spike the litigation.


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