Stream Protection Rule Release Evidence of an Administration Putting People First

Washington, D.C. – House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva today hailed the release of the final Stream Protection Rule by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), a long-overdue regulation that will help protect people, water supplies, and wildlife from the destructive effects of mountaintop removal mining.

“Mountaintop removal coal mining is one of the most destructive things that companies do to the environment, literally blasting off the tops of mountains and dumping the rubble into nearby valleys and streams,” said Grijalva. “Mountaintop removal scars the landscape, buries streams and rivers under piles of waste rock, and creates serious health problems, such as heart disease and lung cancer, in nearby communities. This rule places important new standards on that practice, and will greatly benefit people who have been dumped on for far too long. Unfortunately, Republicans have attacked this rule incessantly since before they even knew what was in it, and I fear that these protections may become another casualty of their efforts to prioritize profits over people by repealing essential health and safety regulations in the next Administration.”

The Republican majority of the House Natural Resources Committee has been “investigating” the development of the Stream Protection Rule for over four years, resulting in two subpoenas, the federal production of more than 13,500 pages of documents, 25 hours of audio recordings, a majority staff report, four oversight hearings, a GAO report request, and multiple hearings on bills to weaken protections for communities coping with mountaintop removal mining. These efforts have not uncovered any federal agency wrongdoing.

Current federal agency rules for coal mining near streams are based on ideas and technology from the late 1970s. They do not prevent damage to water or protect people or fish and wildlife from destructive practices such as mountaintop removal mining.

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