Wed
Dec 7 2016
07:46 pm
By: WhitesCreek

WASHINGTON — The federal government on Wednesday banned mountaintop coal mining from more than 500 miles of ridges in East Tennessee’s Cumberland Mountains, handing a victory to the state and to conservationists who have long sought to protect the region’s forests and streams.

The Department of Interior said it is designating nearly 75,000 acres of mountain ridges as unsuitable for surface mining, in essence barring a controversial form of mining known as mountaintop removal.

“Today’s action honors Tennessee’s request to protect the Cumberland Plateau’s majestic forests, mountains and streams for future generations,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement.

“This is great news for the hunters, anglers, hikers and birders who come, year after year, to enjoy this incredible place. I applaud the state for their forward-looking vision that will help strengthen the local economy and help protect a critical watershed.”

The decision comes in response to a petition filed in 2010 by then-Gov. Phil Bredesen, just three months before he left office.

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