After Trump's signature, Morrisey unsure of future of stream protection case

By Chris Dickerson | Feb 20, 2017

CHARLESTON – After President Trump signed measures undoing regulations that hindered coal mining, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says his coalition of AGs needs to review the need to continue a lawsuit about the matter.

On Feb. 16, Trump signed legislation to end the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s Stream Protection Rule, which was put into effect late in President Obama’s term. Coal companies had said the cost to implement the regulations would lead to job losses in an industry already hit by lower demand.

Morrisey said Trump’s move “strips implementation of the rule, renders it with no continuing force or effect and prohibits a future administration from enacting a similar regulation.”

“Undoing this regulation protects West Virginia coal miners and respects the rule of law,” Morrisey said. “We cannot – and will not – stand for such overreach. There is no place for such a radical agenda within the bounds of our Constitution.”

Morrisey and Ohio AG Mike DeWine led coalitions opposing the regulation. The 13-state group filed a lawsuit last January.

U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin were present when Trump signed the resolution. So was U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins. Capito and Manchin both helped introduce the Senate resolution of disapproval earlier this month.

“President Trump today signaled an end to years of overregulation targeting the coal industry and vital jobs in West Virginia,” Capito said. “This action will help protect the one-third of coal jobs placed at risk by the misguided Stream Protection Rule. It also restores states to their proper role as the regulators of mining activities.

“I was proud to join President Trump and West Virginia coal miners at the White House for the signing of this important measure, and I will continue working with the president to protect our critical energy economy.”

Manchin, a Democrat, said he fought against the rule “because it simply isn’t commonsense and would kills jobs in our state.”

“With the signing of this measure, we officially overturn this harmful regulation and can now focus on helping the many West Virginia families and businesses that are experiencing the negative effects of the war on coal,” Manchin said. “My concerns were not just with the rule itself, but with the rule-making process that led to it.

“Not only did the Department of the Interior and OSMRE fail to consult with stakeholders and consider the economic impacts, including the possible elimination of thousands of jobs, but they also refused to acknowledge that the rule conflicted with EPA authority and was duplicative of existing regulations under laws such as the Clean Water Act. I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for coming together to reverse these harmful Obama-era regulations.”

Jenkins co-sponsored a similar House resolution that Trump signed.

“This is a great day for West Virginia jobs, West Virginia miners and West Virginia energy,” Jenkins said. “I was honored to join President Trump as he signed our legislation into law. Thanks to his support, we have stopped this job-killing rule once and for all and saved one-third of all coal jobs in this country.

“I deeply appreciate the president’s support of this bill and our coal miners, and this is just the first of many solutions we have to create and protect jobs for all Americans.”

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U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins (WV-3) U.S. Senator Joe Manchin U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito Virginia Attorney General's Office

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