In opposition to the Bush administration, a federal judge recently ruled that the government cannot issue permits for a type of coal mining in which mountaintop ridges are sheared off and the dirt and rock are pushed into nearby streams.
U.S. District Judge Charles Haden's ruling was in response to a request from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clarify his May decision ordering the agency to stop issuing permits for mountaintop mining.
The Bush administration believes that practice is an efficient and environmentally sound way to mine for coal and has supported a rule change made earlier this year by the EPA to allow it.
Haden said the goal of the Clean Water Act is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation's waters and said mountaintop mining runs counter to those goals.
The Associated Press said Carol Raulston with the National Mining Association in Washington denounced the ruling, predicting 32,000 layoffs in Kentucky and West Virginia in the next five years if the rulings stand. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Conn.), who opposes the administration's stance, said he would introduce legislation to clarify that dumping waste in waterways is not allowed.