NMA Urges House to Shield Nation’s Coal Communities from OSM

Washington, D.C. — The National Mining Association (NMA) today applauded the House Natural Resources Committee for advancing a bill that will stop unnecessary and destructive regulation from further harming coal communities around the country.

In a Sept. 8 letter to Chairman Rob Bishop, NMA CEO and President Hal Quinn urged House support for H.R.1644, the “Supporting Transparent Regulatory and Environmental Actions in Mining Act” (the “STREAM Act”). The bill would block the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s (OSM) so-called Stream Protection Rule (SPR), the latest in a series of reckless regulations that since 2011 have contributed to the loss of 40,000 coal mining jobs.

“The Stream Protection Rule is a proposal in search of a problem,” said Quinn. “OSM has failed repeatedly to provide a reasoned explanation for this rule –either environmental or scientific justification – yet still finds it necessary to expand what it initially called a minor clarification into ‘a comprehensive, nationally applicable rule’ that changes or adds more than 475 regulations.”

Quinn noted that OSM’s most recent claim that the rule is necessitated by new science is belied by the agency’s earlier statement on June 2010 that it had decided to change the rule in January 2009 with the change of administrations. OSM’s latest explanation claiming environmental necessity is contradicted by its own reports showing that 90 percent of all mining operations are free of any offsite impacts.

“It appears that it’s new politics, not new science, that’s the motivation here,” said Quinn, who suggested OSM is more interested in protecting its regulatory mission than streams. Industry’s exemplary performance explains why most of the SPR would co-opt the missions and programs of other federal and state agencies under various laws that apply to coal mining operations, he said.

Quinn urged Congress to also examine the impact of OSM’s proposal on employment. OSM’s earlier, more modest draft rule was found to put as many as 80,000 coal miners’ jobs at risk and sterilize up to 40 percent of recoverable coal reserves. “This proposal would add to the misery already inflicted upon our coal communities that have lost more than 40,000 coal mining jobs since 2011,” said Quinn. “It’s no coincidence that 2011 was the year the Environmental Protection Agency issued power plant regulations that were struck down recently by the U.S. Supreme Court for ignoring the enormous costs it imposed, just as this rule does.”

Quinn commended Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.), the co-sponsors and the Natural Resources Committee for advancing the STREAM Act that would restore balance and save many high-wage jobs vital to coal communities.