In February, Congress passed and President Trump signed legislation repealing the Stream Protection Rule, which had strengthened a 1983 Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement rule and was intended to curb dumping of soil and rock from mountaintop mining into valleys below the mines. The Stream Protection Rule also reestablished a 100-foot buffer around streams to protect native vegetation and required restoration of permitted mine sites and affected streams once operations ceased.
Congress repealed the Stream Protection Rule using the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to overturn rules finalized in the previous 60 days. The Congressional Research Service reported that the rule would have reduced human exposure to contaminants in drinking water and the probability of adverse health effects. With the rule repealed, enforcement falls back to vague language from the 1983 rule, allowing for lenient interpretation of mining activities.
How can you help? Start monitoring local streams and creeks so you can track future changes to water quality that may occur. Visit our Save Our Streams web page (iwla.org/sos
) for details on how to get started.