The Office of Surface Mining has proposed changes to its stream buffer zone rule that would make it easier for mining companies to bury natural streams and valleys under piles of mining waste and vast ponds of toxin-laden sludge. The changes would weaken environmental standards for mountaintop removal mining operations that, even under the stricter existing buffer rule, have buried hundreds of miles of streams and contaminated mountain waterways. The headwater streams threatened by the rule changes provide valuable habitat and feed larger waters that provide drinking water, fishing and other recreational opportunities.
An environmental review of the proposal confirms that the proposed changes could permit the destruction of hundreds of miles of streams and valleys in Appalachia, the region already hardest hit by these irresponsible mining practices. But despite these conclusions, and ignoring the pleas and protests of thousands of activists, the agency is pressing ahead with its proposal.
The Office of Surface Mining is now preparing to finalize these changes to the rule. Before it can do so, however, the Environmental Protection Agency must give its approval.
What to do: Send a message, as soon as possible, urging the EPA to reject the Office of Surface Mining's plan to allow mining companies to destroy America's streams.