NMA CEO Urges Congress to Halt OSM’s Nationwide Exercise in Mission Creep

Washington, D.C. – The chief executive of the U.S. coal industry’s trade association today urged Congress to block the Office of Surfacing Mining and Enforcement (OSM) from imposing new regulations that will raise costs and separate more coal miners from their jobs — all in the service of padding OSM’s regulatory portfolio without addressing any environmental issues not already addressed successfully by other federal and state agencies.

Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, National Mining Association (NMA) President and CEO Hal Quinn said OSM’s pursuit of a so-called “Stream Protection Rule” is a textbook example of a regulation searching for a purpose and need. The rule will duplicate protections currently administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers and the states at the cost of shutting down mining operations all over the country.

“What was initially seen as an effort to address Appalachian surface coal mining has grown into a nationwide exercise in mission creep,” said Quinn. “The rule would both duplicate and conflict with existing protections under the Clean Water Act and place an enormous burden on state regulators, with no identified environmental benefit.”

Quinn summarized the troubled history of OSM’s ever-changing reasons for doing a rule, its penchant for shutting out state mining regulators from the process and the agency’s unwillingness to provide any scientific justification for a new, costly rulemaking. In fact, said Quinn, OSM’s own evaluations of state programs confirm the lack of any need for OSM rulemaking. “In its annual reviews of states’ regulatory performance, OSM’s findings overwhelmingly reflect outstanding reclamation records and avoidance of offsite impacts,” said Quinn.

Quinn expressed the coal industry’s support for H.R. 1644, the STREAM Act, offered by Reps. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.), Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colo). “Their bill would restrain OSM from imposing a duplicative, unnecessary and potentially ruinous regulation on the nation’s coal industry by attempting to insert itself into matters outside of its authority and competence,” said Quinn.

For a copy of Quinn’s testimony, click here.