The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to gut the Stream Protection Rule, which prevents coal companies from duping mining waste into local streams. The environmental regulations on coal mining also required companies to test the quality of water that their mining operations could affect and to restore streams that were damaged by coal mining operations.
The vote to kill the Stream Protection Rule sends the resolution to the Senate. If it clears the Senate, which took up the resolution to dismantle the rule on Wednesday night, President Donald Trump is expected to sign it.
The Stream Protection Rule went into effect in December, just before President Obama left office. Environmental groups have hailed the rule as necessary to ensure coal mining does not interfere with access to clean water. The purpose of the rule was simple: to prevent coal companies from dumping waste in local waterways.
The Interior Department said that the rule would protect 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests, preventing coal-mining waste from being dumped into nearby waters. The rule maintains a long-established 100-foot buffer zone that blocks coal mining near streams, but imposes stricter guidelines for exceptions to the 100-foot rule.
House Republicans pushed back against the Stream Protection Rule calling it a job killer, despite Department of Interior reports that the rule had the possibility to create jobs, while leading to modest job loss in the coal mining industry.
What this means for Americans who get their fresh water from streams and rivers is more pollution. The repeal of this rule would allow coal-mining operations to dispose of waste more freely, putting clean water at risk.