Press Release Dec 19, 2016

Stream Protection Rule an Important Step in Protecting National Park Water Quality

Sets baseline for greater progress in protecting park rivers and streams

Washington - Today, the Department of the Interior released its Stream Protection Rule, which is designed to protect streams from mining pollution. Pollution created by mountaintop removal mining and surface coal mining has devastated thriving natural ecosystems and entire communities across Central Appalachia. This rule will build on existing regulations, initiated by the Reagan Administration, by improving baseline data collection, monitoring and bonding requirements and requiring restoration of stream functions.

Statement by Chad Lord, National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) Senior Director of Water Policy:

“Mountaintop removal mining is a damaging, industrial activity that can destroy rivers and streams in parks throughout the Appalachian region; parks that provide Americans with outstanding opportunities for recreation and meaningful visitor experiences. The Stream Protection Rule issued today will safeguard our parks from mining waste. This policy will better ensure pollution is prevented from harming waterways in national parks.”


In 1983, the Reagan Administration put rules in place aimed at preventing mining waste from being dumped into streams except in very limited instances. The 1983 rule allowed mining activities in the buffer zone of streams only upon a finding by the proper authority that the mining activities “will not cause or contribute to the violation of applicable State or Federal water quality standards, and will not adversely affect the water quantity and quality or other environmental resources of the stream.” After nearly 25 years in place, the Bush Administration made changes to the Reagan rules removing the two criteria related to water quality, weakening a protective standard that was in place for decades.

The Stream Protection Rule updates the most recent rules to ensure public health, rivers and streams, national parks, and local communities are protected from the hazardous impacts of mountaintop removal mining.


About National Parks Conservation Association Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historic, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit

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