Front Porch Blog

Pro-Mountaintop Removal Bill Headed to House Floor

Another bad bill: Pro-mountaintop removal legislation that would weaken protections for Appalachian streams will be considered on the House floor next week.

Another bad bill: Pro-mountaintop removal legislation that would weaken protections for Appalachian streams will be considered on the House floor next week.

It’s hard to get a good bill all the way through the legislative process to receive a vote on the House floor. Apparently it’s much easier to get a bad bill that far.

We’ve been following H.R. 2824, a bad bill sponsored by Ohio Rep. Bill Johnson, since it was in committee. The bill would force all coal mining states to adopt and enforce the flawed 2008 Stream Buffer Zone rule created under the Bush administration. That’s the same rule that was just vacated by a federal court for violating the Endangered Species Act. Regardless of the obvious flaws in both the Bush rule and the new bill, H.R. 2824 is expected to head to the House floor for a full vote sometime next week.

Contact your representative to help defeat this pro-mountaintop removal bill.

The 2008 Stream Buffer Zone rule is favored by the coal industry and opposed by environmental groups including Appalachian Voices. We are pushing the Obama administration to rewrite the rule to provide the strongest possible protections for Appalachian streams and nearby communities.

In an odd twist of party politics, most Democrats are fighting for the enforcement of a 1983 Reagan-era stream protection rule, which is much stronger rule than the Bush rule, while most Republicans are fighting to get rid of the older, but more effective rule. And Republicans are pushing a bill that would force coal mining states to adopt a federal rule, while Democrats are fighting to protect each state’s right to continue enforcing their own stream protections.

This fight is about mountaintop removal, coal mining pollution and how those threats are regulated. Rep. Johnson and his allies want minimal regulations (though even the bill’s co-sponsors don’t seem to understand that coal pollution is real), and opponents of the bill want to protect the environment and Appalachian communities from mountaintop removal.

There is good news. We’re fighting the bill in the House, trying to stop the bill’s momentum. It’ll likely pass the House, but the margin does matter. If we can dredge up enough opposition, the Senate will be disinclined to touch it. We also have a veto threat from the White House, and those hold a whole lot of weight.

Help us get your House representative to oppose the bill and give us the best chance to defeat it.

There are already members of congress across the country who are on our side. Watch Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida speak in opposition to H.R. 2824 during a rules hearing on the House floor recently.

Take action to help defeat this anti-environmental bill. Learn more about our work to end mountaintop removal.

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.


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