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US scientists demand government ban on mountaintop mining

Analysis of damage done leaves Obama no choice but to ban the highly destructive practice, say the authors of a new study

Source:  Copyright 2010, Guardian
Date:  January 7, 2010
Byline:  Suzanne Goldenberg,
Original URL: Status ONLINE

Mountaintop mining should be banned for causing vast and permanent destruction to US environment and exposing its people to serious health consequences such as birth defects, a new study says today.

An article in the journal Science, by a team of 12 ecologists, hydrologists, and engineers, provides the most comprehensive analysis so far of the damage done by the controversial mining practice.

The process involves shaving off up to 1,000 vertical feet of mountain peak – including ancient forests – to expose thin, but highly prized, seams of coal.

Margaret Palmer, an ecologist at the University of Maryland Centre for Environmental Science, who led the study, said the science left no excuse for the Obama administration not to ban the highly destructive practice.

"Scientists are not usually that comfortable coming out with policy recommendations," she said, "but this time the results were overwhelming."

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