Western Caucus Slams Final Stream Protection Rule

Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul Gosar, on Monday, slammed the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s final Stream Protection Rule. The rule would supersede the existing Stream Buffer Zone Rule that was enacted in 2008 to regulate surface coal mining.

“The Obama Administration has squandered taxpayer money for eight years on this new regulation, tried to manipulate job loss numbers and even changed the name. You can’t put lipstick on this pig. Whether they want to call it the Stream Buffer Zone Rule or the Stream Protection Rule, this rule still stinks,” said Arizona Congressman Gosar. “The American people who want good-paying careers have missed out on hundreds of thousands of jobs around the country as a result of the president’s misguided ‘War on Coal.’ This overreaching new mandate is his latest attempt to put another nail in the coffin of an industry that provides 40% of the world’s electricity. Rest assured, this latest midnight regulation is in the crosshairs of the new administration and Congress.”

“The Office of Surface Mining released its devastating Stream Protection Rule this week as a final parting shot on the coal industry by President Obama. I can assure the people of West Virginia that I will work with President-Elect Trump and the new head of the Office of Surface Mining next year to make sure that the so-called ‘Stream Protection Rule’ will not go into effect and further harm the coal industry,” said Western Caucus member Rep. Alex Mooney.

Western Caucus member Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson stated, “Even in its final weeks, the administration continues to hammer coal country with excessive and costly mandates, which will achieve very few, if any, environmental benefits. The Office of Surface Mining needs to back off this rule, consider the science, and further consult with the states before moving forward.”

According the Western Caucus, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement has a history of producing job crushing regulations based on secret science.

The Western Caucus members argue that the “duplicative new rule conflicts with existing state regulations and will provide no discernable environmental benefit. This new regulation utilizes the fundamentally flawed and unlawful social cost of carbon model. This final rule puts President Obama’s climate change agenda ahead of the needs of the American people. The final Stream Protection rule seeks to implement parts of President Obama’s unlawful mitigation memo issued in November 2015. This new regulation will cause permitting delays for important projects and kill jobs.”

Even the Department of Interior admits that this new rule will increase costs for small businesses, estimating their compliance costs will increase by at least $81 million.

A 2012 Economic Impact Study found that the Obama Administration’s announced Stream Protection Rule could potentially sterilize between 30% and 43% of recoverable reserves which will have devastating effects for both surface and underground coal mines. The study also found that the associated decline in annual coal production as a result of the proposed rule could have a direct impact on our economy and employment, potentially killing between 133,441 and 273,227 mining-related jobs, and having an associated economic impact of $18 to $25 billion annually.

Information provided by the National Mining Association (NMA) confirms that approximately 40,000 coal jobs have been lost in America during the Obama Administration. NMA also stated that up to 64 percent of total U.S. coal reserves nationwide could be off limits to mining as a result of this new regulation. Production of U.S. coal has fallen to the lowest levels in the last 30 years. Since 2009 alone, more than 200 different plants have been forced to close their doors.

In January of 2016, the House passed H.R. 1644 (Rep. Alex Mooney, R-WV), the Supporting Transparent Regulatory and Environmental Actions in Mining Act (STREAM Act). This bill sought to block this new regulation and provide transparency for future regulations.

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