Interior floats plans for mountaintop mining



"The Secretary of the Interior remains committed to reducing the adverse impacts of Appalachian surface coal mining operations on streams. Accomplishing that goal will involve revision or repeal of certain elements of the 2008 rule," the notice states.

Salazar initially tried to scuttle the Bush-era measure by asking a federal court to send it back to Interior for more work. But the court didn't allow it.

So Interior, through its Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, is undertaking a new rulemaking to change what's called the Stream Buffer Zone rule. The upcoming notice seeks comment on several options for altering the stream rule and related regulations.

Among them: reverting back to a 1983 version of the rule with certain changes; numerical limits on the percentage of a watershed disturbed by mining operations; preventing placement of wastes in perennial and intermittent streams, and several others.