Coal-Friendly House Guts Stream Protection Rule

WASHINGTON (CN) – The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to gut a Barack Obama administration regulation on coal mining that requires companies to test the quality of water that their operations could impact and to restore streams that are damaged.

The 229-194 vote to nix the so-called 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 Obama left office. Environmental groups have hailed the rule as necessary to ensure coal mining does not interfere with access to clean water.

“Nobody voted against clean air and water in the last election,” Trip Van Noppen, president of environmental group Earthjustice, said in a statement. “Dismantling them using the Congressional Review Act fundamentally undermines the very goals of our environmental laws by trying to cripple future attempts to enforce protections for our air, water and lands.”

But business associations and lawmakers from coal-producing states have opposed the rule, saying it puts an unnecessary, job-killing burden on coal companies.

On Jan. 1, the National Mining Association challenged the rule in federal court. The group called the Stream Protection Rule “a complete and unsubstantiated rewrite of the regulation of coal mining and reclamation operations.”

In its lawsuit, the group adds: “Through its failures to honor the regulatory rights of the states and honestly consider the economic impact on mine operators, the Stream Protection Rule poses a significant threat to America’s coal industry.”