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W.Va. Coal Association issues statement regarding issuance of stream buffer zone rule

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Coal Association issues the following statement regarding today’s release by the federal Office of Surface Mining of the revised Stream Buffer Zone Rule:

“The unrelenting assault on coal by the Obama Administration continued today, with the issuance by the federal Office of Surface Mining (OSM) of new revisions to the existing Stream Buffer Zone (SBZ) rule,” said Jason Bostic, vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association.  “The OSM claims this new rule provides ‘regulatory certainty.’ How can a 1,200-page rule that blurs different statutes offer clarity or certainty?”

“And most egregious of all is the charade of a robust public comment process put forward by OSM in the crafting of this rule,” Bostic said. “The OSM performed a regulatory sleight of hand by requesting input from the states, then essentially slamming the door to that input while they moved to rewrite the law itself. In fact, nine out of ten states that were requested to provide input formally pulled out of the process as it moved forward without them.

“At its core, this appears to be an insidious attempt by OSM to blur the Surface Mining Act with the Clean Water Act to accomplish what EPA has previously failed to do – trample the responsibility of the states to develop their water quality standards.”

“It is also clear that the OSM’s estimate that ‘only’ 200 mining jobs would be lost due to the implementation of this plan has about as much validity a carnival sideshow palm reading. Several recent studies have shown the huge discrepancies between Obama Administration estimates of economic impact and the reality once these policies are implemented. “

“OSM arrogantly made the statement that the rule is ‘intended to protect the people of the coalfields.’ To that, we call on our congressional and state elected leaders to protect our coal miners from a runaway federal agency that is trying to replace a statute with a regulation developed in secret and wrapped in bureaucratic intrigue.”

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