WV Congressional leaders oppose final version of stream rule

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) won’t be alone in protesting the recently released final iteration of the Obama Administration’s Stream Protection Rule.

“I joined with 22 other Senators to ask the Administration to please not move forward with any more rules and regulations as you are going out the door,” she said Monday morning on MetroNews “Talkline” with Hoppy Kercheval. “And obviously, that’s not what they decided they wanted to do.”

The Stream Protection Rule is intended to limit potential damage to water sources from the practice of surface mining, but mining industry critics have argued the regulation would significantly impact employment.

West Virginia Congressmen Alex Mooney released the following statement.

“The Office of Surface Mining released its devastating Stream Protection Rule this week as a final parting shot on the coal industry by President Obama. I can assure the people of West Virginia that I will work with President-Elect Trump and the new head of the Office of Surface Mining next year to make sure that the so-called “Stream Protection Rule” will not go into effect and further harm the coal industry.”

One industry-backed study suggested the rule could lead to the elimination of 5,000 jobs across the United States.

“This rule will have impacts on our underground mines and our surface mines,” Capito said. “And it’s just more of [President Obama’s] plan to dry up any sort of coal mining that could possibly be left.”

Advocates have suggested that the rules that govern water protection have required an update for years, but Senator Capito suggested that the Obama Administration failed to find the right balance in this rule.

“This is just sort of the typical of what the Obama Administration has done: take a rule that makes sense, working with other partners and partnerships, and then just upping it two to three times,” Capito said.

Congressman David McKinley released a blistering attack on the rule.

“This action is outrageous. The SPR is yet another attack on the coal industry and this Administration’s final shot in the War on Coal before President Obama leaves office. It is clear that this Administration was not paying attention in November. This rule is nothing but an insult to the working men and women of this country because it’s economic impact will be massive,” McKinley said.

“The implementation of this rule would result in a decrease of up to 85% in coal reserves, threatening the livelihoods of 80,000 coal miners and their families. Fortunately, this regulation will be promptly overturned. After meeting with House Leadership and members of the incoming Trump Administration, I am confident that Congress and the President-elect will block this regulation before it can cause more harm to the hard working families of the coal industry,”

Senator Manchin also expressed his skepticism in a release to the media–citing his support for the STREAM Act–calling for any and all science used in rule making by the Department of the Interior to be released to the public.

“Last year, I cosponsored the Supporting Transparent Regulatory and Environmental Actions in Mining (STREAM) Act, which would require the Secretary of the Interior to make all scientific data which was used to draft the rule public. This information must be easily accessible and readily available. I remain unconvinced that this jobs-killing regulation is necessary or substantiated, particularly when you consider state and federal regulations already in place. The consequences of this regulation will have far-reaching impacts on the future of coal mining and, therefore, will only serve to hinder development of affordable reliable energy.”

Senator Capito said in matters that could seriously impact employment, a nuanced approach must be taken.

“This is not about whether or not you believe the science of climate change,” she said. “This is about trying to figure out the best way to get the cleanest air and the cleanest water that we possibly can and moving in that direction in a forward way.”

Capito suggested a number of possibilities remain open to incoming Republican majorities in both the House and Senate to oppose this regulatory change.

“You can obviously pass legislation to reformulate it and push it back to the states,” she said. “That might be a more sensible direction. I think it remains to be seen where we go, but we are going to attack these rules and regulations that have just put big loads on the backs of our job creators.”

The rule updates 33-year-old regulation–and has the potential to protect and/or restore up to 6,000 miles worth of streams.

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