By ANN ALI
The State Journal
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s congressional representatives were front and center Feb. 16 when President Donald Trump signed the congressional resolution of disapproval to overturn the Stream Protection Rule.
The West Virginia Coal Association issued a statement thanking Trump “for officially overturning a job-killing rule from the previous administration.”
“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.”
But Vernon Haltom of Coal River Mountain Watch issued a statement saying revoking the Stream Protection Rule “sends a loud and clear message that Appalachian people’s health, communities and water are acceptable sacrifices for the profits of coal executives and their Wall Street backers.”
And Natalie Thompson of Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition said in an emailed statement that voting to overturn the Stream Protection Rule in its entirely will cause people in coal communities to “pay the price by being forced to purchase potable water that they cannot afford or by combating cancer, birth defects and other invasions of human health by way of toxic water.”
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, attended Trump’s signing ceremony, and said in a statement he was concerned not just with the rule 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,” Manchin said. “I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for coming together to reverse these harmful Obama-era regulations.”
U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV, also attended the signing and said it signaled an end to years of overregulation that targeted West Virginia’s jobs.
“This action will help protect the one-third of coal jobs placed at risk by the misguided Stream Protection Rule,” Capito said. “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.”
U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-WV, said more than 240 coal-fired plants have closed and 83,000 people have lost their jobs because of the Obama administration’s war on coal.
“Fortunately, we finally have a partner in the White House who understands just how damaging these rules can be,” McKinley said. “Today’s signing is a major victory for West Virginia and coal miners all across the country. I look forward to continuing to work alongside President Trump and Vice President Pence to roll back abusive government regulations and create more opportunities for my fellow West Virginians.”
U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-WV, said the rule will save one-third of all coal jobs in the 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.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey also applauded Trump in a statement and said his 13-state coalition will review the need to continue its lawsuit challenging the regulation.
“Undoing this regulation protects West Virginia coal miners and respects the rule of law,” Morrisey said. “We cannot and will not stand for such overreach. There is no place for such a radical agenda within the bounds of our Constitution.”
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