I read with interest the letter the PA Coal Alliance wrote thanking our congressmen for ditching the “Stream Protection Rule” which they claim was a last minute attempt by the Obama administration to prevent the extraction of coal. In actuality the rule making had been in the process since 2009 at the bequest of community groups across Appalachia suffering from the harmful effects of water pollution from coal mining. It was backed up by years of extensive research on the effects of coal mining on ecosystems. Basically it said that a mining company that wants to open a surface or underground mine needs to avoid causing damage to the “hydrologic balance” of waterways outside of its permit area. In addition it required companies to do a baseline assessment of nearby ecosystems, monitor affected streams during mining, and develop a plan for restoring damaged waterways. The fossil fuel era must come to a close. We have already procrastinated longer than what is conscionable considering the warnings of science. Many countries across the globe have found alternatives to fossil fuels that don’t explode, poison, pollute, sicken or add to the climate crisis. Renewable energy can provide good paying, clean jobs that will give us all hope for the future. All fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide and other harmful air pollutants when burned. These emissions lead to a wide variety of public health and environmental costs. Air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels is a major factor in asthma in children. Clean water is our most precious resource and we should take any measures necessary to protect it. The streams running red in our own area are obvious reasons why regulations protecting our waterways are important. I’m saddened that many of our representatives repeatedly vote against the environment and public health.

– Jenny Lisak, Punxsutawney

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