Bush Administration Seeking To Loosen Mountaintop Dumping Restrictions

Washington, DC – Mining companies often blow off mountain tops in the Appalachians and dump the debris into nearby valleys. The practice has buried thousands of miles of mountain streams in West Virginia and Kentucky. A 1983 federal rule set a buffer zone of a hundred feet around streams. The Sierra Club's Ed Hopkins says it's a bright line that keeps off mining activities.

"The Office of Surface Mining is essentially proposing to eliminate that bright l! ine and allow mining within or even through streams."

But the mining industry says the buffer zone doesn't forbid their activities but requires more environmental safeguards within it. The new rules, they say, simply clarify that.

The Bush administration is trying to finalize the rule before it leaves office.