OFFICE OF SURFACE MINING RECLAMATION AND ENFORCEMENT
Building a Stream Protection Rule
The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) is developing a more thorough rule to better protect streams from the adverse effects of coal mining. This rulemaking effort fulfills a commitment set out in a June 2009 Memorandum of Understanding among the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reduce the environmental impacts of coal mining in Appalachia.
In April 2010, OSM published in the Federal Register a Notice of Intent to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement for the Stream Protection Rule, which will replace the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule. The notice includes a list of concepts that are under consideration for the proposed rule. Those concepts include provisions for coal mining companies that elect to mine through or bury streams to gather more specific baseline data on a proposed mine site's hydrology, geology, and aquatic biology; establishing a definition of the term "material damage to the hydrologic balance" of watersheds outside the permit area; and developing more effective requirements for mine operators seeking a variance from the requirement that mined areas be reclaimed to their approximate original contour.
OSM has also reached out to stakeholders to obtain their input on the rule's draft concepts. By obtaining stakeholder feedback at fifteen stakeholder outreach sessions, OSM is prepared to produce a more effective rule. These outreach sessions are part of the Presidentís vision of a more transparent government.
This page provides updates and background information regarding activities and permits under Clean Water Act Section 404 and Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act subject to the Enhanced Coordination Procedures under the June 11, 2009, Memorandum of Agreement.