Since 2009, the Office of Surface Mining Regulation and Enforcement (OSMRE) within the Department of Interior has been working to revise an inadequate Reagan-era regulation governing impacts to waterways from coal mining that was further weakened during the George W. Bush Administration.
APA actively and publicly supported the DOI and OSMRE during 2016 in their efforts to release and enact the new Stream Protection Rule (SPR). The new rule was not only critical for protecting communities, fisheries, wildlife, and the environment, it would preserve our opportunities to enjoy packrafting on pristine lands and waters nationwide. Although Congress successfully overturned the rule early in the Trump administration’s tenure, we all should continue to demand protections for waterways and communities affected by extractive industries. Please write to your Congressional representatives and tell them that you support regulations like those in the Stream Protection Rule. Also, take advantage of the EarthJustice template to write your own letter to DOI officials supporting SPR. Here are some talking points to stress:
- Instituting a Stream Protection Rule is a commonsense step to protect our nation’s streams and waterways from coal pollution that can harm communities, public health, and recreation.
- Such an update is a long overdue step to ensure that regulation is keeping up with the best available science and new coal mining technology.
- In particular, this rule strengthens the requirements for baseline water quality tests to ensure coal mines aren’t polluting streams and waterways while they are operating as well as after mining has occurred. These requirements vastly improve on the status quo and help to make sure that old coal mines won’t pollute our streams like old hardrock mines have across the west.
- The rule would also require coal mines to have a plan for how to protect fish and wildlife from coal mining, reducing the impacts on habitat and improving the reclamation of mines once development has ended.
- Overall, the rule takes commonsense steps to protect the public and wildlife from damaging coal mine pollution, all for very little cost. Independent analysis has shown that the rule would cost between $.01 and $.60 per ton of coal and will not have a significant impact on jobs.
- We applaud the Department of Interior for finishing this long overdue update that will protect public health and our nation’s streams and waterways.
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