KFTC asks for public hearings on Stream Protection rule

KFTC has asked the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement for a series of public hearings in eastern Kentucky concerning that agency’s plans to propose a new Stream Protection Rule.

The letter, sent to Robert Evans, director of OSM’s Lexington office, asks for a “formal public hearing and public education event as part of the rule outreach strategy.

“In order to assure the best participation by impacted citizens, we request that the hearing be held in the evening if possible. We also suggest that the public education outreach occur before the actual hearing so that citizens will be better informed as to the actual contents of the proposed rule,” stated the letter from Joanne Golden Hill and Mary Love, co-chairs of KFTC’s Land Reform Committee.

The “Stream Buffer Zone” rule, as it was formerly called, was removed through a rule-making process late in the Bush administration in 2008. The Obama administration agreed the change was unlawful but so far has failed to follow through on restoring the law.

However, a lawsuit that KFTC and other Appalachian groups initiated resulted in a 2013 ruling that vacated the rule change under the Bush administration and reinstated the 1983 version of the Stream Buffer Zone Rule, which calls for a 100-foot buffer aroiund streams.

OSM says the court decision is not expected to affect the development of the Stream Protection Rule now underway. The agency says that it is “revising its regulations, for the primary purpose of applying updated science and reinforcing the need to minimize the adverse impacts of surface coal mining operations on surface water, groundwater, fish, wildlife, and related environmental values, with particular emphasis on protecting or restoring streams and aquatic ecosystems.”

In the meantime, the Sen. Mitch McConnell and the Republican Congress are trying to find ways to prevent OSM from completing or implementing a new stream protection rule.

Mountaintop removal coal mine in Floyd or Magoffin County Kentucky

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