On December 2, 2008, the Bush Administration in its last days approved a Department of Interior rule which will allow coal companies to shear off the tops of mountains and dump the debris into surrounding valleys and streams. This change would primarily affect coalfields in Appalachia. Current regulations establish a minimum 100 ft. buffer between dumped material and streams. By changing the environmental effect on streams from “adversely impact” to “significantly degrade,” the new rule would allow variances that would reduce or eliminate the buffer. Stephen Johnson (items 23, 321, 348) the current head of the EPA and one of the Adminstration’s most active anti-environmentalists, stated that fish, streams, and wildlife would be protected. What Johnson did not say was that this would be done by changing the definition of “protected”. The rule also contains a lot of wiggle room in how runoff and water pollution would be minimized “to the extent possible using the best technology currently available.” For mining interests and this Administration, “the extent possible” can mean “not much” and “the best technology currently available” can mean whatever is handy.