• Next steps should be tough enforcement, bold action to fully protect communities and streams
WASHINGTON, DC, Apr. 27, 2009 -- The Obama Administration today announced moves to reverse the Bush Administration's devastating last-minute weakening of the stream buffer zone rule, a key protection for waterways near mountaintop removal coal mines. The move comes in response to a legal challenge by a coalition of organizations including the Sierra Club.
In response to today's announcement, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign Deputy Director Mary Anne Hitt issued the following statement:
"Restoring the previous stream buffer zone regulation is one component in the fight to end mountaintop removal coal mining. But with the explosives and bulldozers standing by, it will take tough enforcement and more rule changes and legislation to end mountaintop removal coal mining completely.
"The administration's move today underscores how much work it is going to take to end mountaintop removal coal mining. Even with the original stream buffer zone rule back in effect, it will take tough enforcement and bold action from various agencies to protect our communities and streams.
"Secretary Salazar said accurately that today's action will not end mountaintop removal coal mining or impact existing coal mine permits or operations. Therefore we look forward to working with the Obama Administration on comprehensive steps to end this destructive practice before it's too late. Sierra Club will take an active role in any consultation process on the stream buffer zone rule to ensure the tough enforcement that would make today's announcement have an impact on mountaintop removal coal mining.
"Serious steps to end mountaintop removal coal mining would support clean energy solutions in Appalachia and create good, green jobs in America. Already close to 2,000 miles of streams have been contaminated or destroyed by mountaintop removal coal mining, and communities throughout the Appalachian region suffer daily from contaminated drinking water, increased flooding, and a decimated landscape."