By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
WASHINGTON, D.C. — West Virginia and Virginia lawmakers were on hand Thursday when President Donald Trump signed a document which disapproves the Stream Protection Rule, a Department of the Interior rule which opponents said adversely impacted the coal industry.
President Trump signed H.J. Res. 38, which disapproves the Stream Protection Rule, while lawmakers from coal-producing states watched in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.
Congress utilized the Congressional Review Act to pass the joint resolution on Feb. 2. The joint resolution nullifies the Stream Protection Rule, which included new additional job-killing, unpopular, and costly regulations for the coal mining and coal mining related industries, U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va. said after the president signed the resolution.
“I was excited to attend the signing of H.J. Res. 38 and support the president as he begins to bring relief to the coal mining industry. This rule would have had devastating effects on Southwest Virginia and I am glad my efforts to prevent these new regulations, along with my fellow congressmen, paid off,” Griffith said. “I am proud to represent Southwest Virginia, particularly today, as President Trump signs the resolution.”
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. also attended the signing, along with U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., along with several other lawmakers.
“I have led the fight against this rule since my first days in the Senate because it simply isn’t common sense and would kills jobs in our state,” Manchin said. “With the signing of this measure, we officially overturn this harmful regulation and can now focus on helping the many West Virginia families and businesses that are experiencing the negative effects of the war on coal. My concerns were not just with the rule itself, but with the rule-making process that led to it. Not only did the Department of the Interior and OSMRE fail to consult with stakeholders and consider the economic impacts, including the possible elimination of thousands of jobs, but they also refused to acknowledge that the rule conflicted with EPA authority and was duplicative of existing regulations under laws such as the Clean Water Act. I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for coming together to reverse these harmful Obama-era regulations.”
Capito said she introduced the Senate resolution of disapproval earlier this month with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
“President Trump today signaled an end to years of overregulation targeting the coal industry and vital jobs in West Virginia,” Capito said. “This action will help protect the one-third of coal jobs placed at risk by the misguided Stream Protection Rule. It also restores states to their proper role as the regulators of mining activities. I was proud to join President Trump and West Virginia coal miners at the White House for the signing of this important measure, and I will continue working with the president to protect our critical energy economy.”
Jenkins, who said he cosponsored H.J. Res. 38, joined his colleagues in praising the president’s action Thursday.
“This is a great day for West Virginia jobs, West Virginia miners and West Virginia energy. I was honored to join President Trump as he signed our legislation into law. Thanks to his support, we have stopped this job-killing rule once and for all and saved one-third of all coal jobs in this country. I deeply appreciate the president’s support of this bill and our coal miners, and this is just the first of many solutions we have to create and protect jobs for all Americans,” Jenkins said.
The West Virginia Coal Association issued a statement extended its thanks to President Trump for overturning what it dubbed “a job-killing rule from the previous administration.” This rule, which was released by the U.S. Office of Surface Mining in the final days of 2016, would have sterilized as much as 70 percent of American coalfields and specifically targeted underground coal mining.
“President Trump is living up to the promise he made to West Virginia coal miners that he will do what he can to help them get back to work,” said Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association. “Thanks to Congress’ swift action and the president’s leadership, our coal industry no longer will be subjected to a regulation that would not have protected anything but instead would have decimated our coalfields and the proud men and women who mine coal and provide for their families.”
The $1.2 billion Stream Protection Rule duplicates existing protections in the Clean Water Act and sought to usurp the authority of individual states to regulate coal mining activities, Raney said.
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