Approved on February 16, 2017
President Trump signed a bill nullifying the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s Stream Protection Rule (SPR). The rule, issued in the closing days of the Obama-era, revised existing regulations that were enacted more than 30 years ago and was created in order to reflect advancements in science, technology, and coal mining operations. Changes were intended to minimize adverse impacts of coal mining on surface water, wildlife, and ecological health in order to protect biological resources and reduce human health and climate change-related risks. Trump and Republican lawmakers claim the legislation will save jobs and revive the American coal industry. LEARN MORE
Chris Wood, president of Trout Unlimited, argues in a New York Times op-ed that the SPR is necessary to help reduce the devastating effects of acid mine drainage on water health and on the commercial fishing industry which supports over 800,000 jobs (more than five times that of the coal industry). A January 11th report from the Congressional Research Service clarified the health and environmental benefits of the SPR: stream restoration requirements would protect wildlife and reduce human exposure to contaminants in drinking water, while forest restoration will increase carbon storage and reduce emissions, reducing risks for human health and climate change. The report also noted that while the SPA would reduce coal-related employment by 260 jobs per year an average of 250 jobs would be created from compliance activities yearly. It is also widely accepted that the decline of the coal jobs has less to do with regulations, stemming primarily from mechanization, cheaper alternative energy sources, and weakened demand. LEARN MORE
- Trout Unlimited – A national non-profit dedicated to the conservation of clean water and associated upland habitats for fish, wildlife, and people.
- Southern Environmental Law Center – A non-profit legal group specializing in environmental protection (clean energy, healthy water, wildlife, etc.) in the Southeast US.
- Clean Water Action – An environmental advocacy group focused on canvassing and gaining support for political issues and candidates.
- League of Conservation Voters – An American political advocacy organization that supports a pro-environment agenda through voter education, voter mobilization, and direct contributions.
This brief was compiled by Conor Downey. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.