Before leaving office, the Obama administration finalized the long-awaited Stream Protection Rule to restrict coal companies from dumping mine waste and rock debris into streams, channels, canals, rivers and nearby valleys.
Unfortunately, both the House and the Senate rushed to use an obscure and blunt tool, the Congressional Review Act (CRA), to roll back this rule and block any similar rules in the future.
What are we losing?
The Stream Protection Rule would better protect our drinking water from pollution wildlife, fish, and other habitats surrounding the mining areas from industry impacts. Appalachian Voices estimates that coal companies have buried over 2,000 miles of streams in that region through mountaintop removal since the 1990s, a method that has flattened hundreds of mountains and destroyed more than one million acres of rich forests.
By quashing stream protections with the CRA, Congress not only stripped important protections, but also ensured that no similar rule can be crafted unless Congress passes a new law. It’s a perfect example of Congress picking special interests over the public, as 68 percent of American people consistently prioritize protecting sources of clean water, our air quality and wildlife habitat over energy production.
Repeatedly Congress is handing over our lands to industry, even though the public has clearly voiced their support for our nation’s resources. By using the CRA to block this rule, Congress is saying that they know better how to manage our public lands than professional land managers and the American public.