WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, joined 49 other members of Congress in renewing their call to block a new rule aimed at protecting streams from surface coal mining.
In a letter addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Tipton and others, writing as the Congressional Coal Caucus, argued Thursday against the proposed Stream Protection Rule (SPR) as putting thousands of jobs in jeopardy without a firm scientific basis.
“The Administration rammed through this overreaching rule, cloaked in secrecy and without presenting transparent scientific evidence backing for it,” Tipton said in a statement released Friday. “Our communities cannot afford to lose any more jobs at the hands of this president’s radical regulatory agenda.”
The Stream Protection Rule, proposed in 2015 by the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), seeks to reduce the impact of surface coal mining on public water sources and wildlife by revising the agency’s definition of what constitutes “material damage” and requiring mining permits specify when and where operations might exceed that limit.
The stricter guidelines are effectively an update to a 1977 federal mining act that regulates the environmental impacts of coal mining. According to OSMRE, the new provision is meant to account for three decades of technological and scientific advances in both mining operations and environmental reclamation.
According to OSMRE, the Stream Protection Rule would “protect water resources from the adverse impacts of surface coal mining operations and provide mine operators with a regulatory framework to avoid water pollution and the long-term costs associated with water treatment.”
The coal caucus urged Ryan to push through a House measure delaying or permanently blocking the stream rule before the 114th Congress’s term concludes shortly after the election. The House approved a bill in January crafted to do just that, though it has not been put up for a vote by the Senate.
Tipton’s staff issued his rebuttal to the Stream Protection Rule in testimony at a 2015 OSMRE public hearing in Denver, where he criticized the regulation as a product of the “perfunctory duty of the Washington regulatory machine” rather than one meant in earnest for environmental protection.
“Again, not all regulations are bad, many serve a necessary and vital purpose,” Tipton said, “those that do effectively mitigate problematic impacts are a good thing, but too often the private sector and local communities are burdened with rules and regulations that exist more or less for the sake of having rules and regulations.”
Alejandro Alvarez, a recent graduate of American University, is an intern for The Durango Herald. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @aletweetsnews.