Trump signed a bill Thursday that gives the coal industry immunity under the Clean Water Act from environmental rules, setting the stage for a wave of coal mining activity in the United States that could eventually create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management will no longer have to enforce federal land management rules to protect drinking water or other resources, according to a provision that Trump signed in response to a court challenge by the environmental groups Sierra Club and Earthjustice.
The provision was crafted in response the Sierra Club lawsuit challenging the legality of the BLM’s land management plan to protect the Colorado River, a major source of drinking water for millions of Americans.
It’s a victory for coal industry, which has been under scrutiny by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Supreme Court over whether the BLM is properly managing water resources for public health and safety.
The Interior Department had threatened to block the water rule from taking effect.
The coal industry had argued that the rules, which are designed to limit mining activity on federal lands, were too vague and lacked the enforcement power needed to protect public health.
The administration says it has no plans to revoke the regulations, but will consider any court challenge.