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House, Senate members challenge stream rule


The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Local representatives have sponsored resolutions to block an anti-pollution rule supported by the previous administration.

The House and Senate resolutions would overturn the stream protection rule finalized in December by the Department of the Interior Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement and requires additional reclamation, data gathering and monitoring at mine sites. Environmental groups claim the rule will protect sources of water and opponents say it is unneeded and will cause the loss of thousands more mining jobs.

A resolution under the Congressional Review Act was introduced Monday in the House by Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., and Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va.

“Make no mistake about it, this Obama Administration rule is not designed to protect streams,” Johnson said. “Instead, it was an effort to regulate the coal mining industry right out of business by issuing duplicative and overly burdensome regulations, and preempting state agencies that have historically been tasked with regulating America’s coal industry.”

McKinley called it an “outrageous attack on working families in the coal industry.” Blocking the rule is the first priority of the Coal Caucus, said McKinley, who chairs the caucus.

“Fortunately with President Trump, we now have a partner in the White House who understands how irresponsible and harmful these bureaucratic over reaches can be,” he said.

On the Senate side, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Senate Majority Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, another coal producing state, introduced a Senate companion version to overturn the rule.

“The Stream Protection Rule is the latest in a series of over reaching and misguided Obama-era regulations that have targeted America’s coal industry,”Capito said. “If this rule was allowed to stay in place, it would add to the economic devastation for people in coal communities.”

The House is expected to vote Wednesday. The Senate will vote thereafter.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., were the only Democrats signing onto the resolution to disapprove.

“The last administration’s long list of over reaching regulations absolutely crippled West Virginia families and businesses,” Manchin said. “Not only is the rule very alarming in its scope and potential impacts, the rule making was executed in a flawed way. Rules by the Department of the Interior and OSMRE must be based on comprehensive data that is available to stakeholders, particularly when those rules threaten to eliminate thousands of jobs. Furthermore, agencies should not be issuing duplicative rules that overlap with regulations under other environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act.”

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