U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today joined with 19 colleagues in supporting legislation to block the Obama Administration’s efforts to rewrite existing mining regulations that would eliminate American energy jobs.
“Instead of working to free up American energy producers to create jobs, the Obama Administration has done everything it can to stop developing the resources we have,” Hatch said. ““Utah’s coal industry helps drive our state’s economy, but if the Obama Administration had its way we’d would stop all domestic coal production and be importing more energy sources from overseas. It’s the wrong approach and it needs to stop.”
The Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act would prevent the Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining (OSM) from rewriting the current stream buffer zone rule or “Stream Protection Rule.” The stream buffer zone rule prohibits mining within 100 feet of a stream, unless the activity “will not adversely affect the water quantity or quality.”
The “Stream Protection Rule” was updated in 2008 after an extensive five-year process that included 40,000 public comments, two proposed rules, and 5,000 pages of environmental analysis from five agencies. To date, the administration has not provided any evidence or data to justify a change to the rule.
The legislation was introduced by is supported by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senators Dan Coats (R-Ind.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). The bill also has received the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers and the National Mining Association.
According to the Obama administration’s own estimates, the new regulation could cost up to 7,000 coal mining jobs and negatively impact local economies in 22 states.
A recent study found that the revised “Stream Protection Rule” from this administration would:
- Jeopardize between 133,441 and 273,227 direct mining and mining-related jobs, with the Appalachia region facing the largest losses;
- Effectively eliminate between 30.4 percent and 41.5 percent of recoverable resources from both surface and underground mines;
- Decrease the annual production value of coal between $14 billion and $20 billion; and
- Eliminate between $4 billion and $5 billion in annual tax revenue to the Federal and State governments. States and Tribes would also lose substantial coal lease revenues from production royalties and lease bonus bids.