House moves to block Obama coal rule
WASHINGTON -- House Republicans on Tuesday approved a bill that would prevent the Obama administration from imposing a stream-protection rule for coal mining that government experts say would eliminate thousands of jobs.
The administration rule is intended to replace Bush-era regulations that set up buffer zones around waterways and were aimed chiefly at mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia. The House bill would reinstate the 2008 rule, which was thrown out earlier this year by a federal court.
The House approved the measure, 229-192. Ten Democrats joined 219 Republicans in favor of the bill.
The White House has threatened to veto the bill, saying it limits states' ability to tailor safeguards to their own needs and wastes millions of dollars adopting a rule that has been vacated by a federal court.
Even so, debate on the bill was vigorous. Republicans complained that a rule proposed by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is part of what they call President Barack Obama's "war on coal." Lawmakers cited a draft report by the agency indicating that the proposed rule would cost an estimated 7,000 jobs while slashing production across the country.
"Fundamentally, this debate is about jobs," Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., said during debate. "Good paying jobs in West Virginia and other areas of the Appalachian region. And it is about our economy, whether it be providing needed flat land for agriculture or industrial facilities or saving millions of dollars by providing a ready-made roadbed for a new highway as has been done and is continuing to be proposed in Mingo County."
The rule is intended protect streams from adverse effects of surface mining in states such as West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, but it would affect coal mines nationwide.
The Herald-Dispatch welcomes your comments on this article, but please be civil. Avoid profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, accusations of criminal activity, name-calling or insults to the other posters. Herald-dispatch.com does not control or monitor comments as they are posted, but if you find a comment offensive or uncivil, hover your mouse over the comment and click the X that appears in the upper right of the comment. If you do not want your comment to post to your personal Facebook page, uncheck the box below the comment.