Today President Trump repealed the Stream Protection Rule, a safeguard designed to protect community waterways from coal-mining waste. The rule asked mining companies to monitor their impact on surrounding ecosystems as well as restore any damages caused by their operations. This rule implemented requirements of the 1977 Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. Perhaps the greatest victims of its nullification will be the Appalachian communities near coal-mining operations. Peer-reviewed studies have shown that the process of mountaintop-removal mining exposes local residents to serious health risks, including cancer and birth defects. The Stream Protection Rule also provided critical protections for 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests.
The law President Trump signed today was a “Resolution of Disapproval” from Congress, pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (CRA). A blunt congressional tool, the CRA has been used only once in previous administrations and levies serious consequences, including fast-tracking the repeal of carefully developed safeguards with minimal evaluation of their benefits. Earlier this week, President Trump signed his first, and the second ever, CRA of an SEC anti-corruption rule that was designed to curb bribery. This repeated use of an extreme policy mechanism to gut critical safeguards demonstrates the willingness of the Trump administration to cancel any regulation the fossil fuel industry opposes.