ADEMs "reasoning" behind issuing the permit;
In Alabama, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management is given the authority to issue these permits. However, the agency's approach to permitting has been challenged in the Shepherd Bend case. ADEM gave the mine a permit without ever seeing the mine's plan for preventing pollution, operating under the assumption that the Alabama Surface Mining Commission would review a pollution abatement plan.
In essence what ADEM did was "punt" the responsibility to another agency, as they have done numerous times before, and leave it up to someone else to make sure everything is in order. Wouldn't it make more sense to review the plan first and issue a permit after that? Of course it would which is why that did not happen.
This mine is being fast-tracked and far be it from the state's regulatory agency to exercise due diligence and act in a prudent manner towards Alabama's environment and their citizens. The ASMC has no oversight of water control and it is ridiculous to leave the reviewing up to them. ADEM is well aware of this, perhaps they are thinking no one else is or they just aren't thinking at all. Reader decide.
The following document is quite enlightening and serves as an additional record set of the back and forth communications regarding this mine being situated 4500 feet from the intake of Jefferson County, Alabama's water supplies. Some people are of the mind that it is "much ado about nothing" because the water goes through a filtration process before it reaches the residents of the Birmingham metro area.
That thinking is flawed in two obvious ways:
- Water supplies should be clean at their source.
- If water requires advanced intensive treatment processes the costs rise considerably and will be passed on to consumers.