Trump May OK Strip Mining on Tennessee’s Protected Cumberland Plateau

“The Obama administration designated 75,000 acres “unsuitable” for coal mining at the state’s behest four years ago. Now, Trump officials may be making an exception.”

“LAFOLLETTE, Tennessee—Even as the nation's demand for coal tumbles, the Trump administration is considering a permit that would allow strip mining on protected ridgelines in Tennessee's Cumberland Plateau over the objection of environmental groups and the state's Republican attorney general.

The wild, scenic terrain is within 75,000 acres designated, at the state's behest, as unsuitable for surface coal mining in 2016 by the Obama administration's Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation, the agency responsible for regulating coal mining in the state.  

Senior Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth McCarter said in an October letter to the Trump administration that the federal designation prohibits surface mining on protected ridgelines in what is now the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area, even though a mining company with mineral rights in the area had recently obtained surface rights from the state to 150 protected acres.”

James Bruggers reports for Insideclimate News and Tyler Whetstone for the Knoxville News Sentinel February 13, 2020.