National Ground Water Association (NGWA)

Stream Protection Rule revoked, groundwater provisions affected


The 2016 Stream Protection Rule was revoked by the Interior Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, effective November 17. The Stream Protection Rule now reverts to the rule previously in place, as if the 2016 rule had never taken effect.

The 2016 rule had several major elements affecting groundwater. For example, it defined the term “material damage to the hydrologic balance outside the permit area, it collected adequate pre-mining data to facilitate evaluation of effects of mining operations and required permittees and regulatory authorities to use advances in surface water and groundwater hydrology and runoff management to aid in protection of water resources.
The previous (now current) rule preserves groundwater monitoring, planning, minimization of leachate and wetland protection, but at a more basic level.
Revocation of the 2016 Stream Protection Rule is a rejection of support for advances in hydrologic science, but does not preclude advances from being applied in coal mining areas.

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