President Donald Trump continued his use of the 1996 Congressional Review Act (CRA) yesterday (February 17) when he signed legislation to repeal another climate rule former President Barack Obama implemented to regulate the coal industry and protect streams and forests.
The CRA allows Congress to reject any law Obama submitted to Congress on or since June 13, 2016, through majority vote and presidential signing. Congress voted to nullify the Stream Protection Rule February 2.
The rule, which went into effect January 19, 2017, worked “to prevent or minimize impacts to surface water and groundwater from coal mining.” While it would have preserved bodies of water and acres of forests, the regulation also would have helped protect the health and economies of communities who rely on said waters. Most are rural communities across Appalachia, where mountaintop removal is used to access coal, though the practice has been declining due to coal’s ever-dwindling demand (thanks, in part, to the affordability of natural gas).
Per the Department of Interior:
The final rule would require companies to avoid mining practices that permanently pollute streams, destroy drinking water sources, increase flood risk, and threaten forests. It would also require companies to restore streams and return mined areas to the uses they were capable of supporting prior to mining activities, and replant these areas with native trees and vegetation, unless that would conflict with the implemented land use.
Trump signed his first resolution through the CRA on February 14, reversing a separate Obama law that required resource extraction companies to disclose payments they made to foreign governments.
He is expected to sign another climate-related repeal soon. This one would remove limitations on natural gas production on public and tribal lands to decrease methane emissions. The House already passed the resolution on February 3. It next goes to the Senate for approval.