New pollution restrictions put in place today by the EPA could all but end the controversial practice of mountaintop mining in Appalachia. Environmentalists hate the method, in which miners blow off the top of a mountain, extract the coal, and dump the extra rock and soil into the valley below. When rain runs down through the rubble, it contaminates the streams below.
The new EPA standard on clean water will make it all but impossible for most if not all such operations to continue. "It could mean the end of an era," a mining official worried about jobs in West Virginia and Kentucky tells the Washington Post. Countered an environmentalist in the region: "Mountaintop mining, by its nature, destroys water. I hope it means the beginning of the end." (Read more Appalachia stories.)