The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill that would allow coal mining companies to return to an old practice of dumping mining waste into streams.
House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, called it part of an effort to stop what Republicans call the “war on coal” and a “pro-growth jobs bill.” Triangle Republican members of Congress Renee Ellmers, Howard Coble and George Holding voted for it, as did Rep. Mike McIntyre, a Democrat. And Democratic Reps. David Price and G.K. Butterfield voted against it. The vote was 229-192.
The rule allowing the waste to go into streams was put into effect at the end of the administration of President George W. Bush. The U.S. District Court in Washington in February declared the regulation invalid. The House bill would put the rule into law, assuming it got Senate approval and a presidential signature.
Deborah Murray, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, which challenged the rule in court, said in a statement: “We hope the Senate does not take up this damaging legislation, which would set a troubling precedent. If this legislation were to become law, it would mean more mining waste and pollution in our nation’s streams, especially the beautiful and ecologically diverse waterways of Appalachia.”