WASHINGTON, DC March 25, 2014-- Today, Congressman Mike Michaud voted against legislation that would make it easier for mining companies to contaminate our nation's waterways and jeopardize public health. The so-called Preventing Government Waste & Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America Act would eliminate a Reagan-era rule ensuring that waste displaced during mountaintop removal for coal mining is not disposed of in a way that jeopardizes critical waterways.
"Instead of acting to provide meaningful relief to millions of Americans by extending emergency unemployment assistance, the House today passed legislation that would have terrible consequences for the environment," said Michaud. "As Maine this week marks what would have been environmental champion Ed Muskie's 100th birthday, it's unconscionable that the House would waste its time on a bill that would allow the pollution of our nation's waterways."
Mountaintop mining is the process of removing the top of a mountain to recover coal seams. Although federal law requires that the mountain be closely returned to its original contours, not all of the displaced rock can physically be returned. Rock is often buried in valleys below, and if not disposed of properly, can contaminate or cut off vital streams.
The legislation passed by the House today would require implementation of a controversial rule first proposed by the Bush Administration in 2008 and struck down by a U.S. District Court last year, which would eliminate protections put in place 31-years ago to ensure debris cannot be disposed of in "buffer zones" around streams.