U.S. Department of the Interior

Share Button
Graphic of trees and lake scenery.

For More Information:

Harry Payne
Division of Regulatory Support
(202) 208-2895

Contact OSMRE


Building a Stream Protection Rule

General Discussion of the Rule

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) has proposed a new rule for regulation of coal mining to take advantage of new advances in science, and to improve the balance between environmental protection and providing for the Nation’s need for coal as a source of energy. The proposed rule would better protect streams, fish, wildlife, and related environmental values from the adverse impacts of surface coal mining operations and provide mine operators with a regulatory framework to avoid water pollution and the long-term costs associated with water treatment.

The proposed rule would revise OSMRE’s regulations to define “material damage to the hydrologic balance outside the permit area,” and require that each permit specify the point at which adverse mining-related impacts on groundwater and surface water would reach that level of damage. The proposed rule would also require mine operators to collect adequate pre-mining data about the site of the proposed mining operation and adjacent areas to establish an adequate baseline for evaluation of the impacts of mining and the effectiveness of reclamation.

The proposed rule would also adjust monitoring requirements to enable timely detection and correction of any adverse trends in the quality or quantity of surface water and groundwater or the biological condition of streams.

The rule would also ensure protection or restoration of perennial and intermittent streams and related resources, ensure that mine operators and regulatory authorities make use of the most current science and technology, and ensure that land disturbed by mining operations is restored to a condition capable of supporting the uses that it was capable of supporting prior to mining. This rule revision updates and codifies the requirements and dispute resolution procedures involved when the proposed permit or adjacent areas contain federally listed threatened or endangered species and designated critical habitat. The proposed changes would apply to both surface mines and the surface effects of underground mines.

The majority of the proposed revisions update our regulations to incorporate or reflect the best available science and experience gained over the last 30 years. Approximately thirty percent of the proposed rule consists of non-substantive editorial revisions and organizational changes intended to improve consistency, clarity, accuracy, and ease of use.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is complete and publicly available. About 95,000 comments were received on the proposed rule, Draft Regulatory Impact Statement, and DEIS. The FEIS, including Alternative 8, has been revised, as appropriate, in response to comments and other information received on the DEIS and supporting documents. The FEIS for the Stream Protection Rule analyzes the environmental, socioeconomic, and other effects of the preferred alternative—Alternative 8, as revised—and a reasonable range of other alternatives, including a No Action Alternative.

Read the full text of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), (pdf 30 MB)

Hard copies of the FEIS are available for public inspection at the following OSMRE locations:

OSMRE Administrative Record
Room 101 SIB
1951 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20240
Phone: 202-208-2823

Appalachian Regional Office
Three Parkway Center
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15220
Phone: (412) 937-2815)

Mid-Continent Regional Office
William L. Beatty Federal Building
501 Belle Street
Room 216
Alton, Illinois 62002
Phone: (618) 463-6460

Western Regional Office
1999 Broadway
Suite 3320
Denver, Colorado 80201
Phone: (303) 293-5000)

Charleston Field Office
1027 Virginia Street, East
Charleston, West Virginia 25301
Phone: (304) 347-7158)

Knoxville Field Office
710 Locust Street
2nd floor
Knoxville, Tennessee 37902
Phone: (865) 545-4103)

Lexington Field Office
2675 Regency Road
Lexington, Kentucky 40503
Phone: (859) 260-3902)

Beckley Area Office
313 Harper Park Drive
Beckley, West Virginia 25801
Phone: (304) 255-5265)

Harrisburg Area Office
215 Limekiln Road
New Cumberland, Pennsylvania 17070
Phone: (717) 730-6985)

Albuquerque Area Office
100 Sun Avenue, NE
Pan American Building
Suite 330
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87109
Phone: (505) 761-8989)

Casper Area Office
Dick Cheney Federal Building
150 East B Street
Casper, Wyoming 82601
Phone: (307) 261-6550)

Birmingham Field Office
135 Gemini Circle
Suite 215
Homewood, Alabama 35209
Phone: (205) 290-7282)

Tulsa Field Office
1645 South 101st East Avenue
Suite 145
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74128
Phone: (918) 581-6430)

Document Library

Page Last Modified/Reviewed: 11/15/16

Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, 1951 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20240
(202) 208-2565 | TTY: (202) 208-2694 | Email:

Accessibility | Disclaimer | FOIA | No Fear | Notices | Privacy | DOI |