Next Thursday, September 3rd, the federal agency that regulates surface mining will be holding a public hearing in Lexington. What for, you ask? The agency would like the public’s input on the recently proposed Stream Protection Rule. This rule is actually a revision to the 1983 Stream Buffer Zone Rule. As one of only six hearings held nationwide, this hearing in Lexington is a huge opportunity to influence this pivotal ruling!
What is it?
As originally conceived, the Stream Buffer Zone Rule set stringent restrictions for mining within 100 feet of a stream.
Why does it matter?
This original rule was never fully enforced, and states regularly granted exceptions that allowed surface mining operations to mine through streams and to dump mine waste within the 100 foot buffer (valley fills). As a result of lax enforcement, we’ve seen over 2000 miles of streams destroyed or buried by valley fills in Appalachia, and thousands more polluted by the toxic leachate from those fills.
What about the proposed rule?
The proposed Stream Protection Rule has more substantial monitoring requirements for areas impacted by mining, increased agency requirements for analysis of potential impacts, and increased requirements for land and stream restoration after mining is complete.
Opportunity for action
Even with these improvements, the proposed rule falls short in other areas, such as backtracking on language from the original that banned mining within the 100 foot buffer if it would adversely affect the environmental resources of the stream. We need to make sure the agency has public support for banning any mining within the 100 foot buffer of streams, even ephemeral headwater streams. We also want to make sure the agency has support for increased monitoring requirements that would ensure better protection of water quality and aquatic species, as well as human health.
We’d love to have as many KWA members as possible and join us and other citizens on the evening of September 3rd to speak in support of better protections for clean water and healthy communities in mining regions.
Oh, and you don’t need to have any technical expertise – only a passion for KWA’s mission of protecting and restoring Kentucky’s waterways.
If you’re interested, email me (Tim), and as the hearing date approaches, I’ll provide some talking points for you to customize as you see fit.
5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m
Lexington Civic Center
430 W Vine St
I hope to see you there!
On behalf of our waterways,