US House of Representatives Votes to Virtually Eliminate Protections for Streams from Mining Waste
Washington, DC – The Southern Environmental Law Center released the following statement today by Deborah Murray, SELC Senior Attorney, in response to the U.S. House of Representatives voting 229-192 to pass H.R. 2824, which would block an upcoming rule to protect waterways from mountaintop-removal coal mining:
We are disappointed that the House of Representatives has passed a bill that would force states to implement a rule that was recently struck down by a federal court as invalid. We hope the Senate does not take up this damaging legislation, which would set a troubling precedent. If this legislation were to become law, it would mean more mining waste and pollution in our nation’s streams, especially the beautiful and ecologically diverse waterways of Appalachia.
In February, a federal court ruled in favor of the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and tossed a regulation issued in the final days of the George W. Bush administration that removed essential protections for Appalachian waterways against mountaintop removal and surface coal mining. The rule, challenged by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of NPCA, was declared invalid because it violated the Endangered Species Act.
The 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule had replaced a longstanding regulation that established a buffer zone between coal mining operations and waterways, in order to prevent the excess rubble and debris from mountaintop mining from being dumped in sensitive stream channels. The 2008 Rule virtually eliminated the buffer protections.
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