Environmental Groups Expected To Protest At Mine Hearings

HAZARD, Ky. (AP) -- Environmental groups across Appalachia plan to protest public hearings on a proposal to relax restrictions that prevent mining activity near waterways.

The new idea is backed by the Bush administration.

The groups say they oppose exempting valley fills from the 20-year-old rule. In valley fills, rubble from mining known as mountaintop removal is dumped in nearby valleys.

Current policy says land within 100 feet of a stream cannot be disturbed by mining unless a company can prove it will not affect the water's quality and quantity.

Opponents say the rule change would hurt water supplies to citizens and farms in the Appalachian coalfields.

After protesting, the groups plan to attend the public hearings scheduled for 6 p.m. at Hazard, Kentucky; Charleston, West Virginia; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Washington, Pennsylvania.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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