Ken Ward Jr. at the Charleston Gazette asks, “What will Obama do now about mountaintop removal?” Good question. The destructive form of strip mining — remove the top of the mountain, take coal, dump waste in the valley below — has been the subject of litigation and rulemaking. Obama hoped to beef up regulation of mountaintop mining, but now a federal judge has said the government is moving too quickly. It was trying to reverse a Bush administration mining rule without going through the proper procedures.
Ward notes that the situation “put the National Mining Association in the position of being the ones arguing for good government (this after eight years of having a seat at the table, in the room, guiding Bush administration policies on mountaintop removal and most other energy issues).” The coal boys were the ones saying government was working behind closed doors. And the judge agreed.
But now what? “Somewhere in the middle, what appears absolutely certain is that neither side is really clear at all on what the Obama administration’s position is, what exactly its goals are, or what exactly the rules on when permits will or won’t be issue are,” Ward writes. “The transparency promised by President Obama across government generally, and by White House officials and regulatory agencies on mountaintop removal specifically, just isn’t there.”