House Passes Bill That Would Undermine Stream Protection Rules

Statement and resources from Earthjustice


Chris Espinosa, Earthjustice, (202) 745-5223

Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1644, known as the STREAM Act. This bill would undercut an effort long in the works by the Obama Administration to update environmental standards for coal mining, especially mountaintop removal mining, that has been devastating communities and destroying streams in Appalachia for more than 30 years.

The environmental standards for surface coal mining are inadequate and out of date; stronger, updated standards are desperately needed. The Obama administration is proposing a set of modest improvements in its Stream Protection Rule, but Congressional interference places these needed regulatory improvements at risk.  

Now that the U.S. Office of Surface Mining is in the final stages of its proposed Stream Protection Rule, Congress may delay it even further. H.R. 1644 would require burdensome procedural hurdles that would delay implementation of the Stream Protection rule for at least three years. 

Earthjustice opposes this legislation, and we are releasing this statement from legislative representative Chris Espinosa, our policy expert on this subject:

“This stream protection rule, which the Obama administration has waited so long to introduce, is a positive step forward in protecting water quality in streams impacted by the devastating practice of mountaintop removal mining. This rule better protects communities and ecosystems that are reliant on streams in the Appalachian Mountains.”

“The people of Appalachia need stronger protection, not more delay. Congress should not undermine important safeguards as a give-away to coal industry polluters.”

Read more about President Obama’s Last Chance to Save the Appalachian Mountains.

Learn more about Earthjustice efforts to get stronger stream and wetland protections. 

A waterfall in the Appalachian mountains
A waterfall in the Appalachian mountains (Konstantin L / Shutterstock)

Additional Resources

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Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people's health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.