EPA Halts Coal Mining to Evaluate Impact on Environment

The Environmental Protection Agency is putting on hold hundreds of mountaintop coal-mining permits until it can evaluate the projects' impacts on streams and wetlands.

The decision was announced Tuesday by EPA administrator Lisa Jackson. It targets a controversial practice by coal mining companies that dump waste from mountaintop mining into streams and wetlands.

It could delay more than a hundred permits being sought by companies wanting to begin blasting mountaintops to access coal.

The EPA also denied two permits the Army Corps of Engineers was planning to issue that would allow companies to fill thousands of feet of streams with mining waste in West Virginia and Kentucky.

The agency says the projects could damage aquatic resources.