alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.

How the Government Is Helping Mining Companies Destroy Our Water


And then there were none...The Stream Buffer Zone Rule, the last remaining legal impediment to devastating mountaintop removal coal mining is now just one step away from being abolished, thanks to an Office of Surface Mining decision announced late last week.



On Friday, the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) released its assessment of stream buffer zones - basically giving mining companies the environmental green light to dump mining waste in or near streams.



For years the OSM has failed to enforce the Stream Buffer Zone Rule, which prevents mining within 100 feet of streams, in communities across Appalachia. So instead of enforcing the current law, the OSM decided to just get rid of it - saying this is best possible protection for the environment. In fact, OSM failed even to consider the concept of enforcing the current rule to protect streams and limit the size of mining waste disposal areas in its decision making.  All the alternatives considered involved mining in and around streams.



This decision seems to only aim for expediting mining without regard to environmental damage. And considering how frequently the Sierra Club and others keep finding coal mining companies conducting illegal mining (see Ison Rock, VA; Jellico, TN; and Fish Trap Lake, KY) and releasing unsafe amounts of toxic selenium (see Zeb Mountain, TN; and Hobet and Fola, WV) - you can see how this is just another excuse for these companies to avoid environmental regulations.



There is no doubt that mountaintop removal coal mining is devastating to water quality - one Environmental Protection Agency study found that 93 percent of streams downstream from mountaintop mining waste sites were unfit to support aquatic life.



The Environmental Protection Agency is now the only one standing between the mining companies and our waters. The Stream Buffer Zone cannot be repealed without EPA approval. A poll released today shows that two out of three people opposed repealing the rule, so contact the EPA today and demand that they to side with the American public.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close