Coal mining is a messy business. In parts of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia, mining companies often get at underground coal seams by blowing up the tops of mountains — a process known as mountaintop removal mining. Once that’s done, they’ll dump the debris into the valleys below, which can contaminate streams and waterways with toxic heavy metals.
Appalachian Voices, an environmental group, estimates that coal companies have buried over 2,000 miles of streams in the region through mountaintop removal mining since the 1990s. And there’s growing evidence that when mining debris and waste gets into water supplies, the toxic metals can have dire health impacts for the people and mostly rural communities living nearby.
…Community groups across Appalachia and environmentalists had long pushed to update the regulations here, especially since mining practices have changed drastically over the past three decades and scientists have learned more about the harmful effects of water pollution from coal mining.
…Trump signed the bill, which means the stream protection rule is now dead. Coal companies will have a freer hand in dumping mining debris in streams.