Bingaman Blasts Mining Rule Retreat

December 12, 2008
02:54 PM
The White House today took a last step in rolling back environmental rules which protect streams from being buried by mountaintop removal coal mining. In this mining practice companies blast off the tops of mountains to get at coal seams, then dump the debris into nearby valleys.
The Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining (OSM) today published a rule which repeals a Reagan-era regulation that prohibits coal mining activities from disturbing areas within 100 feet of permanent or seasonal streams.  The Bush Administration is rushing to weaken this regulation before it leaves office, and OSM is clearing the path.  Click here to read the rule as published in today’s Federal Register.
Even in this tough economy, Chairman Bingaman recognizes what the Administration apparently does not: that mountaintop removal mining can have serious negative impacts.
“Weakening a rule, which has protected mountain streams since the days of Ronald Reagan, is going to have far-reaching, negative impacts on the people and the environment in Appalachia’s coal country.  It is intended to clear the way for widespread mountaintop removal mining.  That will scar natural surroundings, degrade water quality, harm fish and wildlife habitat and increase the risk of flooding in nearby communities.
“All of us are concerned about the need for energy security and economic growth.  But we can achieve that security through coal mining practices that protect people, water resources and Appalachia’s unique heritage.  This new rule will be a setback in terms of striking the balance we need in our national energy policy.”
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