Meg Gaffner-Smith of the Corps of Engineers told CNN it "might be time to rethink what's acceptable."
Arch Coal declined to talk to CNN reporters, but it did issue this statement: "We believe that this decision will have a chilling effect on future U.S. investments because every business possessing or requiring a permit under Section 404c of the Clean Water Act will fear similar overreaching by the EPA."
Arch said it believes the EPA action will cost Logan County 250 jobs and millions of dollars in wages and revenue.
CNN also shows videos of protesters who marched in June from Marmet to Blair Mountain, a protest demanding that the historic mountain be preserved from mines planned by Arch and the former Massey Energy.
CNN also talked to residents who opposed the marchers, many who shouted "Shame On You" to the marchers.
O'Brien interviewed Michael Hendryx, a West Virginia University public health professor who has conducted research on the impact of mountaintop-removal mines for the past five years. With support from the U.S. Geological Survey, Hendryx is now doing a field study in the Sharples area.
Pollution running off mountaintop-removal sites increases the rates of cancer, chronic heart disease, lung disease, kidney problems, low-weight babies and birth defects, Hendryx argues.
"I think that it is really the biggest public health problem that West Virginia faces . . . . Rates of disease are higher here in these areas that are closer to mountaintop-mining activity," Hendryx said. "We know it is partly related to the poor economic conditions and partly related to things like smoking, obesity or other behaviors -- but not totally. My hypothesis is that mountaintop mining is a contributing factor."
O'Brien said, "Ultimately, this is an issue important to all Americans. What everyone is talking about today is jobs, jobs, jobs.
"The debate about the Battle of Blair Mountain is a battle over a piece of land and also about jobs -- and the cost to the environment and to future generations.
"It is not just relevant to people fighting the battles in West Virginia, but to anyone who flicks a power switch and expects the lights to come on."
On Thursday, CNN and ORC International released results of a new public opinion survey they conducted that found 57 percent of people who responded opposed mountaintop-removal mining, 36 percent favored it and 7 percent had no opinion.
CNN conducted and released the survey results in conjunction with the upcoming airing of the "Battle For Blair Mountain."
Sunday's broadcast will begin at 8 p.m. CNN also will rebroadcast the new documentary about Blair Mountain on Aug. 20 at 8 p.m.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.