Washington, D.C – The Environmental Protection Agency has signed off on a controversial new rule that would allow surface coal miners to place mining debris in nearby streams. The old regulation directed mining companies to maintain a 100 foot buffer zone from streams. Joan Mulhern with the environmental organization Earth Justice says the new rule leaves little protections in place for water quality.
"There's no buffer at all, that you can dump the waste right in. The new rule is effectively a full on repeal of the old rule." The regulation does compel mining companies to consider water quality and wildlife before deciding on what to do with mining debris, but it also allows mining through streams. The EPA has already documented more than 700 miles of streams that have been and remain buried by such debris in Appalachia.