I’ll have more as developments warrant on the Interior Department’s buffer zone rule announcement, but here’s a quick statement from Joan Mulhern, senior legislativeÂ counsel for the group Earthjustice:
Â â€œUnless this announcement is accompanied by a firm commitment to enforce the law as it applies to mountaintop removal and valley fills, itâ€™s meaningless.Â Secretary Salazarâ€™s comments at the press conference lacked such a commitment; he made it sound as if this action would return the situation to the status quo before the Bush 11th-hour change to the stream buffer zone rule.Â But the history of the stream buffer zone rule is that it hasnâ€™t been enforced. Announcements are fine but the deeds need to match the words. This gets us nowhere if the stream buffer zone rule is not enforced to prohibit mountaintop removal and valley fills.
â€œInterior Secretary Ken Salazar made it clear at his press conference that the 1983 rule would continue to be implemented as it has in the past â€“ meaning it will not be enforced against waste dumping.Â He stated that coal production would not be affected and that current coal operations would not be affected and was vague with respect to future actions. Therefore, the administrationâ€™s actions will not provide the protection essential for Appalachian mountain streams under the surface mining law or the Clean Water Act.â€