Once again, the black-robed corporatists of the federal courts have shown their true bias by ruling in favor of corporate power over common sense and the common good.
This time, the dirty deed was done by circuit court judges in Virginia (a group notoriously sycophantish to corporate interests). In a ruling long sought by the coal barons of Appalachia, a three-judge panel recently decided that the companies can proceed with a brutally destructive mining process that the industry euphemistically calls “mountaintop removal.”
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It works like this: to get at coal seams, companies explode the top third of beautiful, forest-covered Appalachian mountains; then they “remove” the rubble, not by taking it somewhere, but by merrily bulldozing it down the sides of the decapitated mountain, burying the valleys, streams, wildlife, and everything else below.
Some 1,200 miles of streams have already been destroyed and downstream drinking water supplies have been contaminated. So, local advocates for the communities and environment went to court on the grounds that this is a rather obvious violation of the Clean Water Act. No, said the judges, refusing to compel King Coal to avoid burying streams or even to conduct thorough environmental reviews before exploding a mountain.
Luckily, these judges need not have the final say in deciding the fate of Appalachia’s mountains, streams, and people. The Environmental Protection Agency – which literally was run by industry executives, lobbyists, and apologists during George W’s regime – is under new management and can restore the protections that the Bushites gutted. In addition, Congress can and should rewrite the law to stop this madness once and for all.