Oppose Attacks on the Stream Protection Rule (Joint letter to Congress)

January 25, 2017

January 25, 2017

Dear Representative,

The undersigned groups, and our millions of members and supporters, urge you to oppose any efforts to undermine the Department of the Interior’s recently finalized Stream Protection Rule, especially using the Congressional Review Act. This long awaited rule provides local communities with information they desperately need about water pollution caused by nearby coal mining operations, and includes several important protections for clean water and the health of communities surrounding coal mining operations. Any attack on the safeguards in the Stream Protection Rule is an attack on clean water and should be opposed.

The Stream Protection Rule is the first major update to surface mining regulations in 30 years. In that time, mountaintop removal mining, one of the most devastating forms of coal mining, has been responsible for destroying an estimated 2,000 miles of streams in Appalachia. Dozens of peer-reviewed scientific studies have linked mountaintop removal mining to poor health outcomes such as elevated birth defects and deaths from cancer.

Communities impacted by coal mining have been waiting for too long for updated rules, which will now provide them with some of the necessary tools to hold coal companies accountable for the toxic contaminants they dump into waterways. In the semi-arid West, coal mining impacts scarce water resources that farmers and ranchers depend on; in Alaska, vital salmon streams are often located in immediate proximity to coal deposits. It is vital that these commonsense, modest protections are kept in place to aid communities from Appalachia to Alaska.

Sector-wide declines in coal prices and bankruptcies have left promised reclamation of land and water unfinished and the health, well being, and economies of local communities in ruins. Competing sources of energy, not environmental regulations, have caused this decline. That is why the Stream Protection Rule is so necessary; it is more important than ever to limit the environmental and health damage that these coal companies leave in their wake. Further, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s (OSMRE) analysis of the rule shows it can be implemented with minimal impact on jobs.

Legislation undermining the Stream Protection rule would be a direct attack on ensuring that every community has access to clean, safe water. Furthermore, permanently blocking the rule under the Congressional Review Act and any future “substantially the same” effort by the Department of the Interior is extreme and blocks the agency from doing its basic job of managing and protecting our natural resources. If anything, we need more protections for our vital water resources, not fewer.

For all of the reasons listed above, we urge you to vigorously oppose any attacks to undermine the Stream Protection Rule.

Sincerely,

73 National, Regional, State, and Local Groups

Full list:

National & Regional Groups

Alliance for Appalachia

American Rivers

Appalachian Mountain Advocates

Appalachian Voices

Center for Biological Diversity

Clean Water Action

Defenders of Wildlife

Earthjustice

Environment America

Environmental Integrity Project

Environmental Law and Policy Center

Environmental Working Group

Family Equality Council

Food & Water Watch

Friends of the Earth

GreenLatinos

League of Conservation Voters

National Parks Conservation Association

Natural Resources Defense Council

Ocean Futures Society

Progressive Congress Action Fund

Public Citizen

Public Justice

Sierra Club

Southern Environmental Law Center

Waterkeeper Alliance

Western Organization of Resource Councils

WildEarth Guardians

Local & State Groups

Alabama Rivers Alliance, Alabama

Black Warrior Riverkeeper, Alabama

Chuitna Citizens Coalition, Alaska

Cook Inletkeeper, Alaska

Savannah Riverkeeper , Georgia & South Carolina

Canton Area Citizens for Enviromental Issues, Canton Lake and Its Watershed, Illinois

Citizens Against Longwall Mining, Illinois

Citizens Organizing Project, Illinois

Committee on the Middle Fork Vermilion River, Illinois

Prairie Rivers Network, Illinois

Stand Up to Coal, Illinois

Valley Watch, Inc., Indiana

Iowa Environmental Council, Iowa

Appalachian Citizens' Law Center, Inc, Kentucky

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, Kentucky

Kentucky Resources Council, Inc., Kentucky

Kentucky Waterways Alliance, Kentucky

Gulf Restoration Network, Mississippi

Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Missouri

Northern Plains Resource Council, Montana

MountainTrue, North Carolina

NC League of Conservation Voters, North Carolina

Center for Coalfield Justice, Pennsylvania

Citizens Coal Council, Pennsylvania

Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture), Pennsylvania

Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, Pennsylvania

League of Women Voters Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania

Mountain Watershed Association, Pennsylvania

Comite Dialogo Ambiental, Inc., Puerto Rico

Harpeth River Watershed Association, Tennessee

Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, Tennessee

Tennessee Clean Water Network, Tennessee

Tennessee Environmental Council, Tennessee

Appalachian Faith and Ecology Center, Virginia

Potomac Riverkeeper Network, Virginia

Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, Virginia

Appalachian Community Health Emergency, West Virginia

Coal River Mountain Watch, West Virginia

Kanawha Forest Coalition, West Virginia

Maria Gunnoe, 2009 Goldman Prize Winner, West Virginia

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia

West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, West Virginia

West Virginia Rivers Coalition, West Virginia

Clean Wisconsin, Wisconsin

Powder River Basin Resource Council, Wyoming

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