By ANDREA LANNOM
BECKLEY, W.Va. — Congressman Evan Jenkins said Thursday that Congress should immediately act to stop the the Stream Buffer Zone Rule.
Jenkins introduced a joint resolution of congressional disapproval to stop the rule, which was set to go into effect Thursday, from going forward.
The resolution requires a simple majority vote of each chamber. If Congress votes to overturn the rule, it can’t be introduced again until authorized by Congress.
“President Obama may only have one day left in office, but his anti-coal legacy will last for years to come,” Jenkins said in the news release. “The president’s war on coal has had a devastating impact on our state’s economy and cost us thousands of jobs. That’s why I am leading the fight in Congress to stop implementation of this rule and protect West Virginia’s jobs. I have introduced a resolution to stop this rule, and Congress must act to make sure President Obama’s anti-coal actions end with his presidency.”
According to the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement under the U.S. Department of the Interior, the office issued a rule in 1983 requiring a 100-foot “buffer zone” next to streams.
The site said that environmental groups alleged the rule outright prohibited disposing excess spoil that buries streambeds and could severely limit coal mining operations in Appalachia.
In 2008, the office finalized the Stream Buffer Zone Rule seeking to clarify its interpretation of that earlier rule, allowing excess spoil to be placed in streams. There were some new requirements the office said were designed to reduce negative environmental effects, according to the site.
In June 2009, three agencies — Department of the Interior, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to implement a plan with the goal to reduce environmental effects of surface mining operations in six states in Appalachia, the site said. The office also began updating its rules, known as the Stream Protection Rule.
Environmental groups challenged the rule in court and in 2014, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the 2008 rule, reinstating the 1983 version. The office’s site said the court decision is not expected to affect development of the Stream Protection Rule.
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