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House Republicans Just Voted To Allow Dumping Of Coal Waste In Rivers

America’s streams and rivers have come a long way over the past 50 years. For one, they no longer catch fire, like Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River once did. For seconds, they are no longer open repositories for coal mining waste … until today. Our Republican-strangled Congress just voted to reverse one of President Barack Obama’s key environmental regulations Wednesday, repealing a rule that was designed to keep coal mining waste out of streams and waterways.

Republicans started spouting voodoo economics Monday, when they set out to undo the most basic of environmental regulations in favor of profit-hungry coal companies. “The Stream Protection Rule is the latest in a series of overreaching and misguided Obama-era regulations that have targeted America’s coal industry,” West Virginia Republican Shelley Moore Capito told the Senate. “If this rule were allowed to stay in place, it would add to the economic devastation for people in coal communities.

For whatever reason the GOP thought it would be just grand to keep America’s streams and rivers looking like this:

Coal mining waste, in the form of iron hydroxide precipitate (orange) in a Missouri stream receiving acid drainage from surface coal mining. Image by Wikimedia Commons.

This image, taken downstream from a coal mining operation in Missouri, shows what water looks like when coal waste is introduced. President Obama fought Republicans in Congress for over a year to add a simple regulation that required coal mining companies to build a buffer 30 yards around any nearby waterways. Pretty basic.

Common sense environmental protection was too much work for the poor souls in the coal industry, though. According to Republicans who opposed Obama’s regulation, asking mining corporations to take basic care of the water their miners have to drink is apparently too much of a burden.

Obama eventually implemented the regulation through the Office of Surface Mining, a step toward turning the nation’s orange water a shimmering blue-green. Bah humbug, say Republicans in Congress. Their diarrhea-colored slurry is here to stay. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) himself, one of the longest anti-EPA regulation hawks, has basically admitted he made up the “Obama War On Coal” and that those jobs just aren’t coming back. So if the regulations aren’t bringing jobs back, what could possibly be the reason for repealing this regulation except to save corporations a couple bucks?

While the nation is caught fuming over racist and bigoted moves by the White House, Republican representatives are using the shadows to again muddy the nation’s water with absolutely unnecessary waste. It’s times like this when Democrats — and really anyone who would prefer streams and rivers not look like poop — must rise to the occasion and call out this legislative, well, crap.

 


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