Don't Repeal the Stream Buffer Zone Rule

  • by: Sierra Club
  • recipient: EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson
For the past 30 years, the Stream Buffer Zone Rule has prohibited mining activities within 100 feet of perennial or intermittent streams, which serve as habitats to a vast array of aquatic life and provide drinking water to local communities.

The Office of Surface Mining (OSM) is proposing to rewrite this rule to eliminate the buffer, giving mining companies access to mine through streams across the Appalachian region.

We cannot let our environmental protections be dismantled. Please tell EPA Administrator Johnson to reject this proposal.
Dear [Decision Maker],

I am writing to express my concern about the Office of Surface Mining's (OSM) proposal to effectively repeal the Stream Buffer Zone Rule. For the past 30 years this rule has prohibited mining activities within 100 feet of perennial or intermittent streams, which serve as habitats to a vast array of aquatic life and provide drinking water to local communities.

OSM's proposed rewrite of this rule eliminates the buffer, giving mining companies the green light to mine through streams across the Appalachian region. This blatant dismantling of environmental protection cannot go forward without Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval. As administrator of the EPA, it is your responsibility to protect our nation's waters. I urge you to reject OSM's proposal to destroy additional streams.
Throughout Appalachia, communities and waterways are being destroyed by mountaintop removal coal mining. OSM's proposed rule change would enshrine this practice, making it even easier for coal companies to destroy entire mountains and bury the adjacent streams with mining waste. According to the EPA's own Environmental Impact Statement, to date more than 1,200 miles of streams have been buried as a result of mountaintop removal coal mining. Without the current Stream Buffer Zone Rule, mountaintop removal mining will accelerate and allow more valleys to be filled, streams to be buried, and habitats to be destroyed. EPA must act to ensure that this rule change does not go into effect.
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