WASHINGTON, D.C. — West Virginia Second District Congressman Alex Mooney urged an Obama administration official to take a close look at the economic impact the federal Stream Protection Rule would have on the Mountain State in a meeting that took place in Washington, D.C. earlier this week.
Mooney met with Office of Management and Budget Administrator Howard Shelanski Thursday. Part of Shelanski’s job is to review the impact of rules proposed by agencies, Mooney said.
“We’re appealing to him for some fairness on the economic impact (of the Stream Protection Rule). I believe he does see that as his duty to make sure that whatever rules are promulgated can withstand court scrutiny,” Mooney, who has a bill that would put a two-year pause on the rule, said.
The Stream Protection Rule, also called the “buffer zone rule,” overhauls and updates rules first implemented in 1983 and are written to address any potentially negative environmental effects from coal mining on surface water and groundwater.
Once finalized, the rule could apply to about 6,500 miles of streams and will cover both surface mines and any surface effects originating in underground mines.
U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement has failed to highlight the economic impact, Mooney said.
“The folks pushing this in the Department of Interior have claimed there would be virtually no economic impact, no job loss, and I point out that’s simply not true,” Mooney said.
He said he made that point to Shelanski.
“This rule would be, we believe, drastically horrible for the coal mining industry. It would be another tough shot,” Mooney said.
Mooney’s meeting comes a few days after a federal judge ordered the EPA to respond to job loss concerns. U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency must meet requirements of the 1971 Clean Air Act.
Bailey’s order gives the EPA 14 days to come up with a plan and implementation schedule that would determine the potential job losses caused by agency regulations. The ruling followed a lawsuit filed by Murray Energy.
Shelanski still has to review the Stream Protection Rule and then there would be another 30 days before it is finalized, Mooney said.