UPDATE (10:20 p.m.)
The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to remove the Stream Protection Rule.
Congressmen David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) spoke on the House floor about the impact of the rule and how it impacts West Virginia.
“Simply put, it was President Obama’s attempt to drive a final nail into the coffin of an industry that made America great,” McKinley said. “This war on coal has to come to a stop and I think this election set the tone for that.”
“The loss of a coal job and the closing of a coal mine affects us all,” Jenkins said. “Its severance tax revenues help to fund our schools, pay for our police and fire departments, and put money in the coffers of our local governments. This rule would cost cities and counties $6.4 billion in tax revenue with the decline in coal mining.”
The resolution passed 228-194.
The Senate will consider the resolution when the chamber’s session begins Thursday at 11:00 a.m. Both Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) support removing the rule.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Members of the U.S. Senate are expected to move quickly this week on a measure proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives to end the Stream Protection Rule enacted under President Barack Obama.
“This is not hypothetical, wishful thinking that we’re going to get this through. I am confident we’re going to get this done,” 3rd District Congressman Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) said before the scheduled U.S. House vote overturning it Wednesday.
“This gives coal a fighting chance.”
The rule came out of the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, was finalized in December and officially took effect before President Obama left office.
It requires additional mine reclamation, data gathering and monitoring of waterways at and near mine sites during all phases of mining. Fewer exceptions for a 100-foot required buffer between mining sites and streams were also part of it.
Republicans are now targeting the rule through the Congressional Review Act which allows Congress to revisit and undo recent rules and executive actions.
Jenkins is one of the co-sponsors of a resolution that would make that happen along with 1st District Congressman David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and Congressman Bill Johnson (R-Oh.).
On Wednesday, the measure was expected to clear an initial hurdle with a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives and could be taken up as early as Thursday in the U.S. Senate.
President Donald Trump has indicated he supports it.
Throughout its development, environmental groups claimed the rule was necessary to protect water sources.
“These clean water protections are a long overdue step toward guaranteeing every community in America is protected from the toxic water pollution caused by surface coal mining,” Dalal Aboulhosn, Sierra Club deputy legislative director for land and water, said in December.
He continued, “Though it isn’t perfect, the Stream Protection Rule does provide important protections that can help keep coalfield communities safe and takes steps toward holding coal mining companies accountable.”
Opponents like Jenkins, though, and all of the other members of West Virginia’s Congressional delegation have argued the Stream Protection Rule would lead to losses of thousands of mining jobs if left in place.
“This was the biggest anti-coal job killing rule of the Obama Administration and we are going to put the death knell to it,” promised Jenkins. “Had Hillary Clinton been elected, we would not be here today on the cusp of stopping one of the most anti-coal regulations that we’ve ever seen.”
Jenkins, who is in his 2nd term in the U.S. House, was a guest on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
On the show, he confirmed his consideration of a possible run for U.S. Senate in 2018 when U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is up for re-election. He’s not made a final decision, he said.
“I took on a 38 year incumbent (former 3rd District Congressman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.)) back in 2014 because I felt like we needed a new direction,” Jenkins told Hoppy Kercheval.
“People in West Virginia need leadership they can count on and I’m certainly considering it very seriously for 2018.”