TU welcomes proposed rule protecting trout water near coal mines

July 16, 2015

Contact: Steve Moyer (571) 274-0593


TU welcomes proposed rule protecting trout water near coal mines

WASHINGTONA new proposed rule intended to lessen the impacts from mountain-top removal coal mining on rivers and streams represents a worthy effort on the part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and Trout Unlimited will study the issue to determine if there are ways to make the proposal stronger and more effective.

This isnt the latest shot fired in the so-called war on coal, TU Vice President for Government Affairs Steve Moyer said. Todays proposal is a worthy effort to reduce the huge impacts of mountain-top removal coal mining on our Appalachian streams and rivers.

TU understands that coal mining will occur in Appalachia, but there are better ways to access coal seams than blowing off the tops of mountains and dumping the mine waste into adjacent valleys and streams. Filling in headwater streams may be good for the economic well-being of some coal companies, but it is harmful to the health of the streams and the people who live downstream from these waste sites.

Mountaintop removal mining has buried or degraded nearly 2,000 miles of Appalachian streams to date. It has also caused additional harm to downstream areas by introducing sediment pollution, altering stream hydrology and increasing the severity of floods. The Interior Departments proposal is intended to clarify and improve on coal mining regulations which have been manipulated by court decisions, as well as state and federal agency policy changes, that go all the way back to the Reagan Administrations Interior Department in 1983.

Mountaintop removal mining practices create a survival risk for brook trout and other wild trout populations, and impede efforts to restore brook trout in already degraded watersheds, Moyer explained. Many streams in the Appalachian Mountains subject to mountaintop removal mining are, or historically were, habitat for brook trout. Brook trout, and the vibrant sport fisheries they sustain, currently live in only a fraction of their historic range.

Trout Unlimited is the nations largest coldwater conservation organization, with 155,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North Americas trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.