Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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WV State News

February 28, 2013

WVa House considers weakening stream protections

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The West Virginia House is considering a bill that would allow the state to disregard federal recommendations and set its own standards for how much selenium can be discharged from coal mines.

A public hearing on the bill has been scheduled for Monday afternoon. The House Judiciary Committee is expected to take up the bill quickly after the hearing.

Selenium is a naturally occurring element that is often released into streams as a result of mountaintop-removal coal mining. It is toxic to aquatic life, and in large amounts is also harmful to humans.

The bill's sponsors say that the current allowable level of selenium in streams is onerously low. They note that the allowable level in tap water is much higher than the level in mountain streams.

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