Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Interior says stream buffer-zone rule enacted in last days of Bush term will remain until early 2011

A federal judge rejected the Interior Department's attempt to quickly remove eleventh-hour Bush-administration exemptions to the "stream-buffer zone" rule in August, saying the department couldn't cancel the regulations that help mountaintop-removal strip mining without going through the complete rulemaking process. Now the department has proposed a timeline that would delay adoption of a new rule until early 2011, Patrick Reis of Greenwire reports for The New York Times.

Interior's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement said Friday that it would open a 30-day period for public comment on a new rule this month and "expects to proceed to a final rule as expeditiously as possible." But Reis notes, "No formal timeline can be set without knowing the volume of public input." Mary Anne Hitt, spokeswoman for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, told Reis: "Interior is spinning its wheels, leaving this Bush-era rule in place while Appalachia's mountains, streams and communities continue to be destroyed." (Read more)

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