The Stream Protection Rule is an update to existing mining regulations. It compels companies to restore the “physical form, hydrologic function, and ecological function” of streams after mining operations are complete. And, it calls for monitoring pollution levels in streams near surfaces mines.
In Appalachia, mining companies regularly blow the tops off mountains to access stores of coal beneath, a practice known as “mountaintop removal.” They dump the debris into valleys below, filling rivulets and contaminating downstream water supplies. Mining firms have decapitated more than 500 mountains in Appalachia and buried some 2,000 miles of streams, according to Appalachian Voices, an environmental advocacy group.
This poses a threat to wildlife and people who live nearby. Numerous studies link mountaintop removal to higher rates of cancer and heart disease among residents of neighboring communities.
“The rule spells out best practices for reclaiming land and reforesting with native species. It strengthens protections for ephemeral streams that are necessary for good water quality and quantity downstream,” said Davie Ransdell, a retired surface mine inspector for the state of Kentucky. “In my view, it’s also a job generator, since it prevents mining companies from just pushing material over the hill and into streams below.”
Lawmakers will likely vote Wednesday to overturn the rule, using the Congressional Review Act, which gives Congress the power to scrap executive actions issued in the last 60 working days.
“I would encourage the House to act quickly so that we can send this resolution to the president’s desk as soon as possible,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a statement. Throughout his career, McConnell has opposed coal mining regulations. He also blamed what he called “Obama’s War on Coal” for the decline of the mining industry, although energy experts say it is largely the low cost of natural gas that is responsible for coal’s demise.
According to the Center for American Progress, the 27 representatives that sponsored or co-sponsored the Congressional Review Act bill received nearly $500 million from mining interests last year.
And there you have the bottom line of rethugs everywhere. Their only line – how well will their pockets be lined? They don’t give a fuck about the planet, they don’t give a fuck about clean water, they don’t give a fuck about wildlife, and they don’t give a fuck about people other than themselves. The full story is at Think Progress. In the same vein, the rethugs are looking to help big oil by making bribery and a lack of transparency okay again:
The House will vote as early as Wednesday to nullify a rule that makes it harder for U.S. oil companies to engage in bribery and corruption in developing countries.
In June 2016 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) finalized the “Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers” rule, requiring oil, natural gas, and mining companies to publicly disclose the billions of dollars they pay to foreign governments for drilling rights around the world. This rule — meant to promote transparency and fight corruption — now faces the prospect of repeal as Republicans look to rollback a myriad of Obama administration rules.
“On the same day as the Senate is considering the nomination of former Exxon CEO as next Secretary of State, the House of Representatives is deciding whether or not to vote to license the bribery and corruption that the oil industry has lived off for decades,” Corinna Gilfillan, head of the U.S. office at Global Witness, said in a statement. “We cannot stand by while the interests of a few powerful oil companies trump the safety and values of our country. We need this law to protect investors, developing countries, and our own national security interests.”
That story is here.