Interior Finalizes Stream Protection Rule

"The final rule updates 33-year old regulations and establishes clear requirements for responsible surface coal mining that will protect 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests over the next two decades," according to the agency.

The U.S. Department of the Interior released final regulations Dec. 19 that aim to prevent or minimize impacts to surface water and groundwater from coal mining. "The final rule updates 33-year old regulations and establishes clear requirements for responsible surface coal mining that will protect 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests over the next two decades, preserving community health and economic opportunities while meeting the nation's energy needs," the agency's news release stated.

"The responsible rule released today represents a modern and balanced approach to meeting the nation’s energy needs," said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, whose replacement in that job has already been selected by President-elect Donald Trump. "Regulations need to keep pace with modern mining practices, so we worked closely with many stakeholders to craft a plan that protects water quality, supports economic opportunities, safeguards our environment and makes coalfield communities more resilient for a diversified economic future," she added.

"This rule takes into account the extensive and substantive comments we received from state regulators, mining companies, and local communities across the country," said Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Janice Schneider. "We traveled the country, visited many mines, and met with many of the people who work and live in coal country to make sure we wrote the best rule possible – one that is both economically achievable and protective."

The final rule will take effect 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

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