MACED's Statement About the U.S. Department of the Interior's New Stream Protection Rule
July 20, 2015
The U.S. Department of the Interior has announced new proposed rules to strengthen protection of streams that are affected by surface mining. Citizen organizations and individuals across Appalachia have long expressed concern about surface mining's impact on water quality and we hope these new rules will provide better protections for this valuable resource. As an economic development organization, MACED recognizes clean water as a critical resource to communities across the region that seek to build a new, diverse and sustainable economy.
There is no question that eastern Kentucky has been hard hit by the steep decline of the coal industry, as recognized by Congressman Rogers and Governor Beshear through the Shaping Our Appalachian Region Initiative. SOAR has mapped a course to a new economic future, and we applaud efforts – like ensuring the region has cleaner water –that will support that course. Clean water and healthy communities are critical to our economic future, whether we are talking about ecotourism, local food, attracting new businesses or retaining our young people.
It has been 32 years since the current clean water rule was written, so it is appropriate that we now consider how our understanding of environmental science has grown and how the mining industry has changed. The new rule will take careful study to understand fully. We hope there will be broad citizen participation in the public comment process that will take place in the months ahead, including hearings in Lexington, Ky., and Charleston, W.Va.