CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey praised the U.S. House and Senate for taking action to strip implementation of former President Obama’s stream buffer rule.
In January, Morrisey and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine led a coalition of states urging Congress to use its power under the Congressional Review Act to disapprove the rule so that it would have no continuing force or effect.
The regulation, a last-ditch attempt by the Obama administration, seeks to prohibit any change to the land and environment around coal mines – an unrealistic standard clearly designed to eliminate an activity crucial to the economic lifeblood of West Virginia and the energy needs of the country.
“I applaud the House and Senate for this week's swift action to halt this unconstitutional and damaging rule,” Morrisey said in a statement. “I’m confident President Trump will sign this legislation in short order to protect jobs and overturn this terrible rule once and for all.”
The Congressional Review Act establishes streamlined procedures for Congress to pass legislation vetoing regulations within 60 days of their issuance. Doing so required a simple majority of both chambers.
Ohio and West Virginia, also in January, led a group of 13 states in challenging the rule in court. Their lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction, in addition to a court order declaring that the rule violates federal law and unconstitutionally sidesteps Congress.
The regulation fails to respect state control over mining regulations as required by Congress and unnecessarily seeks to regulate areas already monitored by other federal entities and the individual states.
It also exceeds the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s authority as it would broadly prohibit almost all mining-related activity in a specified stream buffer zone, subject longwall mining to unrealistic standards and set forth increased water sampling requirements that ignore local geology.
In late 2015, the attorneys general led 14 states in opposing the proposed regulations and calling for the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement to coordinate with states in drafting a balanced rule. Such cooperation did not occur.