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W.Va. Senators, Representatives look to overturn Stream Protection Rule

WASHINGTON – Lawmakers have introduced resolutions of disapproval in an effort to overturn the Stream Protection Rule, one of last acts finalized under President Barack Obama.

In December, the Department of Interior Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement finished guidelines to protect 6,000 miles of waterways and 52,000 acres of forestry, mainly in West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. As part of the rules, a 100-foot buffer zone must be maintained between streams and mining sites. Additionally, companies must also restore mined areas to pre-mining conditions after mining is complete.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., joined Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in a resolution, saying the rule does little to actually protect waterways and instead would give “federal bureaucrats more authority to make coal more expensive to mine and use.”

“If this rule was allowed to say in place, it would add to the economic devastation for people in coal communities,” Capito said in a statement. “Passing this resolution of disapproval will help usher in a new era of common sense policies that protect our environment without needlessly compromising our economy and jobs.”

Capito and McConnell also said federal statute gives states first priority over regulating coal activity, adding cooperation between federal and state governments is needed when drafting regulations.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said in a separate resolution regulations under the Obama administration have been overreaching and damaging to West Virginia’s economy.

“I remain unconvinced that this jobs-killing regulation is necessary or substantiated, particularly when you consider state and federal regulations already in place,” Manchin said.

In the House of Representatives, Reps. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) and David McKinley (R-W.Va.) introduced a joint resolution with Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, saying the office shut out states from designing regulations.

“This rule is President Obama’s final chapter in his anti-coal legacy, a legacy that has cost West Virginia thousands of jobs and decimated our state’s economy,” Jenkins said. “We will be taking action this week to stop this job-killing rule and protect tens of thousands of jobs.”

“This rule implemented by President Obama at the end of his term is an outrageous attack on working families in the coal industry,” McKinley said. “Fortunately with President Trump, we now have a partner in the White House who understands how irresponsible and harmful these bureaucratic overreaches can be.”

The House is scheduled to vote on three energy-related resolutions this week.

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