In 1988, the Gauley received some federal protections as the Gauley River National Recreation Area, under legislation pushed through by Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va. Rahall, though, has opposed EPA's efforts to crack down on pollution from mountaintop removal mining.
Previously, American Rivers listed the Coal and Big Sandy rivers as endangered because of mountaintop removal mining.
American Rivers said that the Monongahela provides "exceptional wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, and drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people in West Virginia and Pennsylvania."
But, the group said, the Mon has "become highly threatened by toxic pollution arising from the recent surge of natural gas extraction activities in the region overlying the Marcellus Shale formation.
"The federal government and the states of West Virginia and Pennsylvania must act now to prevent further pollution associated with Marcellus Shale exploration and protect the already highly vulnerable water quality of the Monongahela River Basin," the group said.
In 2004, American Rivers listed the Mon -- along with the Allegheny River -- as among the most endangered rivers, citing at the time the millions of gallons of polluted coal-mining waters building up in old mine tunnels.
Other rivers listed as endangered in this year's report included the Sacramento-San Joaquin River in California, the Little River in North Carolina, the Cedar River in Iowa, the Upper Colorado River, the Chetco River in Oregon, the Teton River in Idaho, and the Coosa River in Alabama.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.