• New Study Discredits OSM’s New Mining Regulation in Advance of Senate Oversight Hearing

New Study Discredits OSM’s New Mining Regulation in Advance of Senate Oversight Hearing

Washington, D.C. – A new study by an environmental consulting firm documents steep costs and job losses from a new regulation from the U.S. Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement (OSM), adding further credence to widespread criticisms of this unnecessary rule.

The so-called Stream Protection Rule (SPR), the subject of Senate oversight hearings Tuesday, will eliminate the jobs of between 40,000 and 78,000 coal miners in an industry that has already lost more than 40,000 jobs since 2011, many from administration regulations. When including employment in coal-dependent industries, Ramboll Environ found the jobless toll from OSM’s rule could rise as high as 281,000.

OSM’s insistence that job losses would be minimal is derived from its evaluation of hypothetical “model mines.” Ramboll Environ’s job loss projections are derived from data gathered at 36 actual operating mines, surface as well as underground.

The resulting massive job loss projection stems from the rule’s devastating impact on the coal resource. The firm’s analysis, commissioned by the National Mining Association (NMA), concludes that between one-fourth to two-thirds of total U.S. recoverable coal reserves would be uneconomic under OSM’s rule owing to comprehensive constraints placed on both surface and underground mining operations. This volume of coal removed from mining operations, valued at between $14 billion and $29 billion, would eliminate potential tax revenue to federal and local communities of between $3.1 billion and $6.4 billion each year.

Despite these destructive economic impacts nationwide, the SPR would nevertheless accomplish no environmental purpose. OSM’s own data shows that in states accounting for almost 75 percent of the nation’s coal production, between 95 and 100 percent of coal operations have no off-site impacts. Not surprisingly, OSM offers no scientific justification for this rule, nor an explanation for why it decided on this rulemaking long before it determined the need for it.[(W)e already decided to change the rule following change of Administrations on January 20, 2009.”*]

“With this massive re-write of 475 existing rules and the addition of many new ones, the SPR is a text book example of how an agency – oblivious to the costs and the absence of any necessity for its rulemaking – abuses its authority for the sole purpose of expanding its budget and mission at public expense,” said NMA President and CEO Hal Quinn.

*75 Fed. Reg. 34,667