WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., vowed Thursday to fight the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's veto of a mountaintop removal mining process.
Rockefeller, a passionate defender of coal mining in his home state, said he was angered by the EPA's decision to block the project in West Virginia's southern coal fields, saying it was the first time the agency used its authority to stop an already-approved project, The Hill reported.
"I am writing to express my outrage with the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) decision to veto a rigorously reviewed and lawfully issued permit at the Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County, W.Va.," Rockefeller told President Obama in a letter. "This action not only affects this specific permit, but needlessly throws other permits into a sea of uncertainty at a time of great economic distress."
Rockefeller said he was confident the decision would be overturned by the courts, The Hill reported.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the mining project in 2007, but it has been held up by litigation.
Mountaintop removal mining is a controversial coal extraction method in which large amounts of a mountain are blown off to access to coal reserves. Environmentalists long objected to the practice, noting the pollution it causes in nearby waterways.
The Sierra Club hailed the EPA's decision Thursday, saying EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson deserves "enormous credit for changing policies to protect Appalachia's health, land and water."