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Losing the Stream Protection Rule

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

The Stream Protection Rule was developed by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) over the course of seven years during the Obama administration. The rulemaking was an effort to better protect public waterways from mountaintop removal and other destructive coal mining practices. The rule would have updated the 1983 Stream Buffer Zone Rule.

OSMRE considered new scientific studies regarding water quality and other impacts of coal mining across the country. The main purpose of the new rule was to better protect public water from the impacts of mountaintop removal and longwall underground mining. Both mining practices are particular to Appalachia, and can devastate streams by burying headwater streams under rubble, or dewatering streams when underground mines collapse.

OSMRE held many public hearings regarding the draft rule and heard comments from citizens, environmental groups and the mining industry. The final rule was extensive, covering stream impacts, as well as reclamation and monitoring requirements. But it was also moderate, and would not have ended mountaintop removal or valley filling.

The rule took effect in January 2017, but was revoked by Congress in February through the Congressional Review Act. President Trump signed the legislation rescinding the rule, and the 1983 version is now once again in effect.

While rivers and streams near coal mining sites have some protections under the old rule, as well as various requirements under the Clean Water Act, none have been sufficient to fully protect public water from coal mining pollution. Alliance groups and their allies will continue to pursue all means of protecting public water, including citizen enforcement of existing rules, and implementation of new state and federal regulations.

2 Responses to “Losing the Stream Protection Rule”

  1. Brenda Shanabarger Says:

    The T-rump Administration seeks to dismantle all environmental protection agencies while leaving the inhabitants of these areas to live in & die a very painful, poverty stricken area with no resources available to them for healthcare or the coal jobs he has promised! You can provide 1 million coal mining jobs to a disabled coal miner & this will not benefit them in any way, fashion, or form for these coal miners have given their lives to Coal Country & we owe them our respect, a secure decent affordable guaranteed health care just like the U.S.Veterans, the Coal miners contributed with their lives, to all aspects of our lives & security ! We owe the Coal Miners more than an oxygen tank & a gasp for breath! The Affordable Care Act ensures that a Coal Miner with 15 yrs or more Coal Mining work, a lifetime pension that will carry over to their widow once the Coal Miner has passed.These funds were/are extremely difficult to get with the ACA & nearly impossible without the ACA!Tell all our representatives “Black Dust Lives Do Matter”!!

  2. michael kerby Says:

    Im pretty naive to anything to do with coal mining rights or laws but am old enough to see and understand when something is not right or just plain wrong.first off its not surprising that trump would cancel something right away that would benefit workers and help big business..wasnt that one of his bullshit statements “make america great again” i have so much to say about that that i cant even attempt to begin but will say that this proves everything about big business,money and greed is that humanity is so overlooked for the all mighty dollar.and humanity in my opinion is lumped into peoples actual grandparents fathers mothers and generation of children that actually do the back breaking,work that miners do..i am a retired UAW worker in detroit michigan that really has been spoiled with my job compared to you mine workers but can really relate to your struggles that u have faced. Somewhat i add..that is y i first stated spolied cuz my union brother and sisters before me dealt with the money grubbers so i didnt have to. So im saying all this cuz i feel for all your fellow workers and families that our country has put you through just so they can eat cavier and drink dom perignon on the lives of your kin and ancestors…sorry to say it like that but if u think about it it’s probably actually just like that..fucking disturbing…and im a veteran and to think more than half of the people dieing from side effects of mining probably fought for this country and are being denied benefits just because they dont have the power….wtf…

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