The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released final guidance on Appalachian surface coal mining, to ensure a consistent and timely review of surface coal mining permits under the clean water act and other statutes.

The guidance will enable EPA regional offices to work in collaboration with states, the US Army Corps of Engineers, mining companies and the public, to follow a balanced approach that protects communities from pollution associated with coal mining.

EPA said it will apply the guidance flexibly, taking into account site-specific information and additional science to arrive at the best decisions on a case-by-case basis.

The guideline is based on improved, peer-reviewed science on impacts of mountaintop mining, public and stakeholder input and from the implementation of the interim guidance.