CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An independent science advisory team has issued a draft report that supports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's conclusion that mountaintop removal is causing serious damage to Appalachian streams.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's independent Science Advisory Board earlier this week issued a draft of its report on a major study EPA released in April to summarize mountaintop removal's water quality impacts.
In a 75-page report, a 15-member panel of scientists from around the country agreed with EPA's conclusion that valley fills are increasing levels of electrical conductivity downstream from mining operations and threatening stream life.
"This independent review affirms that EPA is relying on sound analysis and letting science and only science guide our actions to protect human health and the environment," said Pete Silva, EPA's assistant administrator for water. "We will continue to follow the science and solicit input from all stakeholders as we safeguard water quality and protect the American people."
The advisory team report was issued on Tuesday, and EPA announced it in a news release on Thursday.
The scientific panel called on EPA to improve its study by including a better estimate of the "ultimate area to be affected" by Appalachian strip mining during different timeframes.
Also, the panel recommended that EPA include an explicit inventory of the diversity of freshwater habitats affected, improve the detail regarding expected loss of biodiversity, and make its assessments of the loss of ecosystem function to buried streams more precise.
The EPA advisory board examined a study that agency scientists put together in the wake of the Obama administration's crackdown on mountaintop removal, to summarize available science EPA officials said supported their efforts to reduce mining impacts.