Now in support of both toxic influence and effluence, Republicans in the U.S. Senate have taken dramatic steps to dismantle Obama-era environmental regulations by easing restrictions on coal mining. Using an obscure law that allows Congress to review newly inaugurated regulations before they take effect, the Senate has now voted to reverse the Stream Protection Rule, which sought to protect the nation’s waterways from debris generated by a practice called surface mining.
The Stream Protection Rule had been designed to protect 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests by keeping coal mining debris away from nearby waters.
The abandoned rules would have required mining companies to restore mined areas to their original physical and ecological condition and to monitor for environmental effects. Its requirements would have reduced human exposure to contaminants in the drinking water and, by requiring the companies to replant trees in mined areas, increased carbon storage, thus assisting in the fight against climate change.