On July 21, 2011, the U.S. EPA issued the final version of its regulatory guidance to Appalachian regional offices on the agency’s role and expectation in regulation of surface coal mining (including mountaintop mining and associated valley fills) under the Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Environmental Justice Executive Order. The July 21 document replaces an “interim final guidance” issued on April 1, 2010. A key feature of the guidance is the EPA’s call for states to implement a water-quality standard reflecting “best available science” about the relationship between measures of conductivity (as an indicator of the amount of total dissolved solids or salinity) and stream aquatic life. The EPA’s Web site on regulation of surface coal mining is at http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/mining.cfm; this site includes links to the July 21 guidance, a news release on the guidance, and many background documents.
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