Front Porch Blog

Bad Bill of the Week

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has just introduced a bill that has the sole purpose of making it easier for coal companies to pollute water. S.2122, the “Defense of Environment and Property Act” neither defends the environment nor private property.

While the Senator makes the argument that the legislation protects the right of “landowners to do what they please with their own private property,” he really means that coal companies can do whatever they want at a mine site without any consideration for the effects it will have on the people who live near that site.

Under his bill, the Clean Water Act would no longer apply to ephemeral or intermittent streams, like the ones formed after it rains. As we’ve seen repeatedly, filling those streams with spoil leads to severe flooding, among other problems. That flooding destroys homes downstream. Those homes are also private property, but for some reason, in Sen. Paul’s mind, they do not deserve the same sorts of protections given to property owned by coal companies.

The Senator claims that he is bringing “common sense to federal water policy.” In what world does this pass for common sense? The bill goes on to make it nearly impossible for the EPA or Army Corps of Engineers (whom Sen. Paul has for some reason chosen to demonize as well) to limit coal mining pollution. I can’t decide if the bill name “Defense of Environment and Property Act” is intentionally misleading or if they are just being sarcastic.

About Thom Kay

AV's Legislative Director, Thom spends his days between Durham, NC and Washington D.C., knee deep in politics and legislation, working to persuade decision-makers to protect Appalachian communities from mountaintop removal and to invest in a new economy for the region. He is the least outdoorsy person at Appalachian Voices, and he's just fine with that.


  1. Ben B. says:

    Sen. Paul notes on his site: “I have spoken with a number of victims of the government’s assault on private property, and it is time to rein in the out-of-control government agencies that infringe on these Americans’ rights.”

    Senator Paul, please let us know of these property owners and their intent so that we can make an informed decision on this bill.

  2. hebintn says:

    If I collect and store drums of waste chemicals that leak and spill onto my neighbors property and contaminate their well I would end up in jail. Seems to me if I blow up the mountain I own to get at coal and the operation results in contaminated water and air and flooding then it’s the same as if I have leaking drums on my property. So, “landowners to do what they please with their own private property,” is not right. Land owners cannot do anything on their property that harmfully impacts their neighbors. Coal companies cannot ruin the forests, and streams, and well water, and air, or anything else that impacts the people and properties downstream or down wind.

  3. Patt says:

    Will people please vote these maniacs out of office? Please? Human wealth is worthless if there is no earth left.

  4. Caleb says:

    Of course you would end up in jail or fined for polluting your neighbors land. Because your neighbor would do something about it. Thats the point. Use the court system to defend property rights, NOT federal agencies. Thats how the system was designed. You do have the right to do whatever you want with your property, so long as it does not effect someone elses property. In the case that it does effect someone else’s property, you have the court system to resolve the issue.

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