Congress moves to reject Obama mining rule changes

A mountaintop removal mine site in Southern West Virginia in 2009. Credit: CHRIS DORST | Gazette-Mail file photo

WASHINGTON, DC — “Congress on Wednesday evening was headed toward fairly quick action to reject a late-term effort by the Obama administration to replace a controversial stream ‘buffer zone’ rule with a collection of requirements that coal operators better monitor water quality, try to avoid damage to streams, and improve the restoration of waterways harmed by mountaintop removal and other types of mining.

The House passed, and the Senate was expected to pass later in the evening, a resolution to block the U.S. Office of Surface Mining’s ‘stream protection rule‘ that was issued by the Interior Department agency in late December.West Virginia Republican Reps. David McKinley, Evan Jenkins and Alex Mooney all voted for the resolution blocking the OSM rule. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., were both expected to vote for the resolution as well.

Supporters of the resolution portrayed the action as a victory over what they called the Obama administration’s efforts to destroy the nation’s coal industry, while opponents said the OSM rule was a much-needed effort to reduce pollution from mining and protect public health in coalfield communities.”

— Ken Ward Jr., Charleston Gazette-Mail

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