ephemeroptera Clean Water Act

Post image for Update: EPA’s War on Appalachian Coal

I’ve been an outspoken opponent of the EPA’s war on Appalachian coal production. See here, here, here, and here.

In particular, I’ve sought to shine a spotlight on the EPA’s outrageous crackdown on saline effluent from surface coal mines. The EPA argues that this salty discharge is an illegal violation of the Clean Water Act, because it harms an order of short-lived insects known as the mayfly. The science suggests that the total number of insect species doesn’t decrease downstream of surface mines, as hardier insects readily assume the niche vacated by the mayfly. Nonetheless, the EPA alleges that the loss of the mayfly alone is sufficient to violate the Clean Water Act’s narrative (qualitative) water quality standards. The mayfly is not an endangered species.

A year ago, the EPA issued guidance for quantitative salinity water quality standards, effective immediately. According to one mining engineer, they set the bar so low that you couldn’t wash a parking lot without violating the Clean Water Act. Remember, the President had campaigned on a promise to “bankrupt” coal; this was the fruition of that promise. Even EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson conceded that new surface coal mine permits in Appalachia were unlikely under the terms of the April guidance.

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