After fifteen years in the making, the “stream protection rule” lasted about a month in effect. According to the official press release, the new rule “updates 33-year old regulations and establishes clear requirements for responsible surface coal mining that will protect 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests over the next two decades, preserving community health and economic opportunities while meeting the nation’s energy needs.” The rule was developed during part of the George W. Bush administration and the entire Barak Obama administration and became final in January, 2017.
There is a statute called the Congressional Review Act. It allows Congress to pass a resolution prohibiting a regulation from going into effect. Now a resolution has been passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President so the new stream protection rule is gone. The Congressional Review Act also prohibits an agency from promulgating a similar rule.
With the new, updated rule now gone, we revert to the 1983 rule. It prohibited mining within 100 feet of a stream. In the view of many, were it fully enforced it would provide greater protection than the rule that was just voided. The problem has always been in its enforcement.
For more details on the rule and its history (including what is good about the rule), see the January, 2017, and February, 2017, and August and November, 2015, issues of The Highlands Voice. All are accessible at www.wvhighlands.org.