In February 2017, Congress voted to dismantle the Stream Protection Rule, which would have safeguarded streams from pollution created by mountaintop removal and surface coal mining.

The Stream Protection Rule, finalized by the Department of the Interior in December 2016, was designed to ensure that communities do not get blindsided by toxic water pollution from industrial coal operations. This common-sense regulation would have provided people with basic information about water pollution and much-needed safeguards to protect drinking water from toxic waste. This highly anticipated rule would have been the first major update to surface mining regulations in 30 years.

Congress chose to overturn this rule as its first substantive action of 2017, defying the public trust and prioritizing coal company profits over public health and the environment.

NPCA vehemently opposes this congressional maneuver and will continue to fight to protect the clean water that parks and people depend on.

Background on why the Stream Protection Rule is important for parks and people

  • Contamination from coal mining operations threatens community drinking water supplies across the country. In dozens of peer-reviewed studies, mountaintop removal mining has been linked to cancer, birth defects and other serious health problems among residents of communities living near these sites, and coal mining impacts scarce water resources that farmers and ranchers depend on to support domestic uses and agriculture.
  • Everyone has a right to know what’s in their water. The Stream Protection Rule would have provided long-overdue monitoring of toxic contaminants such as lead, arsenic, selenium and manganese in drinking water. Many of these toxins are known to cause birth defects, delayed brain development and other severe health and environmental impacts.
  • Surface coal mines are huge and can have devastating effects on streams. A 2008 study found that 93% of streams downstream from surface mining operations were impaired based on an assessment of aquatic life.
  • Coal pollution threatens jobs. Small businesses rely on clean, safe water. They have no control over the release or impacts of coal pollutants and should not be forced to carry the economic risks.
  • The Stream Protection Rule was developed through a broad and transparent public process. The rule is the product of more than 8 years of work, incorporating input from a wide range of industry, state and environmental stakeholders. It is based on the best available science and addresses more than 100,000 public comments. To invalidate this public process wastes taxpayer cost and effort and ignores the democratic voices of thousands of participants.

Feb. 2, 2017: Congress Voted to Overturn the Stream Protection Rule

Both houses of Congress passed resolutions that essentially killed the Stream Protection Rule. The House passed the resolution by a vote of 228-194. The Senate passed their resolution by a vote of 54-45.

Effort-to-date

  • More than 13,000 Contacted the Senate to Protect Clean Water

    Feb 2017

    Thousands of national park advocates urged their senators to oppose any congressional resolution to repeal the Stream Protection Rule.

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