10/15/2010 04:17 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The EPA Steps Up for Appalachia

Today, Lisa Jackson and the EPA sent a clear message to those who would destroy Appalachia's mountains.

Back on September 27, the day of the Appalachia Rising events in Washington, D.C., I said this during a DailyKos livechat: "... it's up to Obama's EPA to put a halt to any further blasting in Appalachia. The biggest test of the Administration's commitment to coalfield residents, Appalachia's mountains -- and basic environmental sanity -- is whether the Administration will approve Arch Coal's Spruce mine MTR mining permit."

So kudos to the EPA, to Administrator Jackson, and to Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin for passing that test by recommending the withdrawal of the mining permit for the Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County, West Virginia.

This mother of all mountaintop-removal coal mines would destroy thousands of acres of land, bury seven miles of streams, and end a way of life for too many Appalachian families.

Let's also hear it for the local grassroots heroes who spent more than a decade fighting this largest mountaintop removal coal mine. While the coal industry has been cutting jobs and cutting corners in Appalachia, clean energy and efficiency investments there could generate almost 80,000 jobs by 2030 and save consumers more than $25 billion in energy costs.

Alarmists have tried to turn the EPA into this year's version of 'death panels' by attacking it for fulfilling its mission: protecting the public. Today's recommended veto of the Spruce Mine permit shows that the Obama administration is adhering to science and the rule of law and is listening to the people of Appalachia.

Now EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson needs to take final action to prohibit this mine once and for all. In addition, it's time for the Obama administration to fix the rules to put clear, permanent solutions in place to protect Appalachia from irresponsible mining and to accelerate America's transition from coal to clean energy.