Virginia’s Cold Water Streams Dealt a Major Blow

Virginia’s treasured cold water streams and associated fisheries and wildlife have just been dealt a major blow while the coal lobby won a huge victory in the General Assembly with SB 1025. First, the bill limits the ability of the citizen run State Water Control Boards to issue permits for surface coal mining operations, and it turns the power over to a single appointee of the governor, the Director of the Department on Mines, Minerals and Energy.

Even worse, the bill basically restricts state officials from using standard water quality testing – the Director cannot do standard toxicity testing on pollution discharges that are not already known to be toxic. This will have serious ramifications for human health and our natural resources in the state.

As was documented by the journal Science last year, mountain top removal extraction for coal involves clear cutting forests, stripping top soil, and disposing the “mine spoil” into adjacent streams. Not only does this have major human health implications, but the tons of heavy metals poured into Virginia’s streams will put Virginia’s cherished fish and wildlife heritage in jeopardy. Southwestern Virginia is a paradise for hunter and anglers, especially trout fishing. Yet, the General Assembly in Virginia has moved to weaken protection for our valued resources.

It is amazing mountain top removal is still implemented and even given a green light by the legislature as is destroys so much more than it produces.

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