Front Porch Blog

Congressional Letter to OSMRE

The following US Congrssmen and women sent a letter to OSMRE this week requesting a 90-day extension of the public comment period for the Bush Administrations propsed repeal of the Stream Buffer Zone Rule:

Thanks to them, the public may have a chance to stop this thing yet. Text of the letter below…

October 2, 2007

The Honorable Dirk Kempthorne
Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240

Dear Secretary Kempthorne,

On Friday, August 24, 2007 the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) submitted a new regulation that would allow companies to dump hazardous fill material directly into water ways and streams, permanently destroying them.

The Proposed Rulemaking on “Excess Spoil, Coal Mine Waste, and Buffers for Waters of the United States,” 72 Fed. Reg. 48890 would repeal a 1983 regulation, adopted by the Reagan Administration, which protects streams from coal mining activities by creating a 100-foot buffer zone around them, unless the activity will cause no harm to the water course. We are requesting that OSM provide a 90-day extension of the Public Comment Period for the Proposed Rulemaking.

The magnitude of the documents that must be reviewed, the diversity and severity of impacts this proposed rule would have on different communities in many states and the need for citizens living in affected communities to understand those impacts and develop comments based on sound legal and scientific analysis, all make it clearly impossible, under the current schedule, for citizens to provide OSM with comments that can include the information your agency must have in order to make an informed decision about the Proposed Rulemaking.

In addition, we are requesting that your agency hold at least one full-day public hearing on the Proposed Rulemaking, in which the scientific and legal basis of the Proposed Rulemaking is more thoroughly explained, and in which citizens may submit oral and written testimony, including questions that your agency will answer.

It is simply inappropriate to allow the excess spoil from this type of mining to be dumped in mountain streams, polluting waterways, filling valleys, and in some cases, potentially endangering the lives of area residents. A 90 day extension of the Public Comment Period and transparent public hearings are essential in order to achieve a competent review of this Proposed Rulemaking.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to continuing to work together.


Rep. Frank Pallone (NJ-06)
Rep. Chris Shays (CT-04)
Rep. Heath Shuler (NC-11)
Rep. Ben Chandler (KY-06)
Rep. John Yarmuth (KY-03)
Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05)
Rep. Henry Waxman (CA-30)
Rep. Todd Platts (PA-19)
Rep. John McHugh (NY-23)
Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (MD-01)
Rep. Jay Inslee (WA-01)
Rep. Earl Blumenaur (OR-03)
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH-10)
Rep. Tom Allen (ME-01)
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL)
Rep. Barney Frank (MA-04)
Rep. Jim McDermott (WA-07)
Rep. Donald Payne (NJ-10)
Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ-07)
Rep. Lois Capps (CA-23)
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)
Rep. Maurice Hinchey (NY-22)
Rep. Patrick Kennedy (RI-01)
Rep. Ed Markey (MA-07)





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