WASHINGTON — The beginning of the end
of the so-called "war on coal" began this week when both
chambers of Congress approved resolutions to overturn the Obama-era
Protection Rule, the office of U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va.,
announced Feb. 2.
The joint resolution is on President Trump's
desk, McKinley's communications director, John Stapleton, said in an
email to The West Virginia Record.
West Virginia U.S. District 1 Rep. David McKinley speaks on the floor of the House prior to vote against Obama-era Stream Protection Rule
"Yesterday, it passed the House,"
Stapleton said. "This afternoon, it passed the Senate. We fully
expect President Trump to sign it."
If Trump does sign, he
will become the first president to end a coal rule since 2001,
according to Bloomberg News, when Congress and then-President George
W. Bush killed a Clinton-era ergonomics rule adopted by the Labor
"For the last two years, the Coal Caucus of
bipartisan members has made stopping this rule our No. 1 priority,
because it has nothing to do with the health of America, the safety
of America, and the life of Americans," McKinley
said on the floor of the House before the vote in that chamber,
according to video from C-Span. "Simply put, it was President
Obama’s attempt to drive a final nail into the coffin of an
industry that made America great. Look, enough is enough. This war on
coal has to come to a stop, and I think this election set the tone
for that. Now that we finally have a president who understands the
painful impact of excessive and unnecessary regulations, we should
pass this (Congressional Review Act) as quickly as possible so he can
On Feb. 1, the House passed the bill 228-194 to
overturn the Obama-era rule designed to reduce water pollution. On
Feb. 2, the Senate 54-45 vote to pass similar legislation, making it
first of a number of coal rules expected to be ended in the current
Congress, Reuters reported.
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin was
one of four Democratic U.S. senators to support the measure, the
others being Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana
and Claire McCaskill of Missouri. Susan Collins of Maine was the only
Republican in the Senate to vote against it.
Protection Rule was proposed July 27, 2015 by the Department of the
Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.
Coal-industry leaders have consistently called this rule the single
greatest threat to the jobs.
"If not stopped, 78,000 coal
miners could lose their jobs," McKinley said in an email to the
West Virginia Record.
On Feb. 1,
Morning Consult published an op-ed
piece by McKinley, Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, and Rep. Evan
Jenkins, R-W.Va., about why the Stream Protection Rule needed
to be stopped.
"This statutorily-questionable and
duplicative rule imposes harm upon communities and state regulatory
bodies with little environmental or economic benefit," the op-ed
piece said. "It was written without state input, stretches
grossly beyond congressional intent and was issued in the waning days
of the outgoing Obama administration. This is precisely why Congress
created the Congressional Review Act, and this is the reason it will
be used to overturn SPR."
On Jan. 30, Sen. Shelley Moore
Capito, R-W.Va., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,
co-sponsored of a resolution
of disapproval under the CRA aimed at overturning the Stream
"The Stream Protection Rule is the latest
in a series of overreaching and misguided Obama-era regulations that
have targeted America's coal industry," Capito said in a news
release issued the same day as the resolution. "If this rule was
allowed to say in place, it would add to the economic devastation for
people in coal communities. Together with Leader McConnell and my
congressional colleagues, I look forward to nullifying this harmful
rule that is bad for jobs, families and businesses, especially in
energy-producing states like West Virginia. Passing this resolution
of disapproval will help usher in a new era of common-sense policies
that protect our environment without needlessly compromising our
economy and jobs."