CHARLESTON – An 11th hour regulation put on the
books by departing President Barack Obama has been effortlessly struck down by
Congress, leaving one West Virginia Congressman happy with the result.
On Feb. 16, President Donald Trump fulfilled
another of his campaign promises when, following Congress’ use of a power to
eliminate new regulations by majority vote,
he agreed to the abolition of the Stream Buffer Zone Rule that his
predecessor had spent his entire tenure as president crafting.
U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.), long an
advocate of the coal industry, is especially pleased with the striking down of
the rule, which he and fellow Congressmen Bill Johnson (R-OH) and David
McKinley (R-WV) killed with a bill of their own (H. J. Res. 38).
“This [rule] has been the hammer over the head of the
coal industry for several years, and the Obama administration callously filed
the rule, and it came into effect Jan. 19, the day before Donald Trump
became president," Jenkins told The West Virginia Record. "This was the final shot from the Obama administration to kill
Jenkins spoke with
The West Virginia
Record a day after he appeared before the West Virginia Mining
Symposium at the Charleston Civic Center where he spoke, among other things,
about the defeat of the Obama regulation.
adopted on Dec. 16, 2016, essentially put a much more stringent restriction
on what is termed "mountaintop removal mining" and looked to protect what the
government called the "hydrologic balance" of the nearby ecosystem. Mountaintop removal mining is one option used
by coal mining companies and involves the demolition of mountain tops so as to easier
access rich veins of coal lying beneath.
Critics of the technique argue that such a procedure
needlessly endangers the waterways when claimed toxic debris from the
demolition is dumped into them. Environmentalist groups have asserted
that there is growing evidence of health complications to residents living
nearby and that thousands of miles of streams have been buried.
Jenkins contended that the rule was not so much
an environmental asset as it was an economic liability.
“This rule was in the works for over six years, at the
federal level,” said Jenkins, “The Office of Surface Mining had spent over $10
million crafting this rule and the industry had the rule evaluated and it was
estimated that if it was allowed to stay on the books that it would cause
one-third of all coal jobs in America to be [lost] and it would take one-half
of all the coal reserves in America and declare them untouchable.”
Proponents of the repeal, like the National Mining
Association (NMA), reaffirmed Jenkins
numbers with The West Virginia Record.
In a press release issued by the NMA, the association said:
Trump’s] action nullifies a duplicative, unnecessary yet extremely costly
regulation targeting coal miners and their families who for eight years have
borne the brunt of a full-scale regulatory assault on their livelihoods. From
across the country, state mining agencies have rejected the stream rule and the
deeply flawed process that prevented their consultation. With the president’s
action today, they can now exercise their lawful authority as Congress
Jenkins said the defeat of the rule would save
tens of thousands of jobs and should give the people of the nation some hope.
“When folks look at the news and see all the protests,
and protests at town halls or listen to suggestions that nothing is getting
done, we got something done.”