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EPA to deny permit to infamous coal mine

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One of the largest mountaintop removal projects in the country was warned of an upcoming permit veto Friday by the Environmental Protection Agency. A letter from the EPA’s regional administrator William Early to the Army Corps of Engineers outlined the agency’s concerns and concluded that there is “a high potential for downstream water quality excursions under current mining and valley fill practices.” The veto, if it goes through, represents a big victory for conservation activists in West Virginia, who have rarely seen the EPA step in when it comes to pollution from mountaintop mining.

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Spruce No. 1 mine, managed by Mingo Logan Coal Co., is probably the most monitored mine in the U.S., having gone through an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers. Located in Logan County, in the heart of the coal-mining Appalachians, the Spruce Mine “as currently configured would bury more than seven miles of streams,” according to the EPA’s assessment.

The EPA’s decision was based on the extensive deterioration of the watersheds, and especially the stream valleys, associated with the Spruce Mine. According to Ken Ward Jr. of the Charleston Gazette, “a full third of the streams in the Little Coal watershed are impaired and nearly as much of the Coal is impaired,” due to the mining operations going on there.

“Similar data from nearby streams associated with existing mining operations strongly suggest that construction of the Spruce No. 1 mine has potential to cause or contribute to impairments downstream,” Early states in the letter.

Early’s letter gives the Corps and Mingo Logan Coal two weeks to respond before the agency kicks off a public-comment period, the next step in the legal process for the EPA to overrule the corps’ decision to grant the Spruce Mine permit.

Environmentalists have been fighting the Spruce Mine operation for more than ten years. The proposal in 1998 for a 3,110-acre strip mine came from Arch Coal Co., and would have buried ten miles of stream valleys. That permit was blocked by the district court, and the parcel of land was shifted to a non-union subsidiary, Mingo Logan Coal.

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The use of this type of veto has been exceedingly rare since it was created with the Clean Water Act of 1972. Though 80,000 proposals are processed annually, only 12 permits in 37 years have ever been denied. The EPA’s decision against Spruce Mine and the Mingo Logan Coal Co. is part of the Obama administration’s campaign to minimize environmental degradation caused by mountaintop removal practices.


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Rosh Hashanah services interrupted by death of the first Jewish woman on the Supreme Court

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The death of the first Jewish woman on the U.S. Supreme Court interrupted Rosh Hashanah services on Friday evening.

"On Friday, Jewish people around the country celebrating Rosh Hashanah were stunned to learn that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a prominent member of their own tribe, had died," the HuffPost reported. "People received alerts, Zoom messages and announcements from their rabbis about Ginsburg Friday night."

While many people were saddened by the passing of the iconic jurist, Twitter user Leora Horwitz noted a silver lining.

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2020 Election

‘Big mistake’: Trump’s favorite pollster tells Fox News why Republicans shouldn’t push nomination before the election

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Fox News on Friday examined why it would be a "big mistake" for Republicans to attempt to force through a nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

Following Ginsburg's death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) vowed that Trump's nominee would receive a vote, but did not specify whether it would occur before the election or during the "lame duck" session of Congress that occurs before the 2020 election victors are sworn in.

But conservative pollster Scott Rasmussen warned Republicans it would be a bad idea during an appearance with Fox News personality Laura Ingraham.

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LISTEN: Mourners sing ‘Amazing Grace’ outside the Supreme Court to celebrate Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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Heartwarming videos were shared on social media on Friday night showing the spontaneous gathering at the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The large crowd, with many people wearing masks, sang the hymn "Amazing Grace."

Here are some of the videos of the scene:

A moving moments as dozens join in to sing “Amazing Grace” on the steps of the Supreme Court. pic.twitter.com/NGZyZi4YR4

— Mike Balsamo (@MikeBalsamo1) September 19, 2020

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