Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

W.VA. CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION ; Officials Oppose New Water Rule; Manchin, Capito Decry Federal Measure Meant to Keep Mining Debris from Being Dumped in Streams

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

W.VA. CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION ; Officials Oppose New Water Rule; Manchin, Capito Decry Federal Measure Meant to Keep Mining Debris from Being Dumped in Streams

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration on Monday set final rules designed to reduce the environmental impact of coal mining on the nation's streams, a long-anticipated move that met quick resistance from Republicans who vowed to overturn it under President-elect Donald Trump. The Interior Department said the new rule will protect 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests, preventing debris from coal mining from being dumped into nearby waters. The rule would maintain a buffer zone that blocks coal mining within 100 feet of streams, but would impose stricter guidelines for exceptions to the 100-foot rule.

West Virginia's lone congressional Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin, issued a statement urging all of congress to "carefully review the more than 1,600 page rule, but added he believed the action was "flawed and "lacked transparency.

"I remain unconvinced that this jobs-killing regulation is necessary or substantiated, particularly when you consider state and federal regulations already in place, Manchin said.

Interior officials said the rule would cause only modest job losses in coal country, but Republicans, as Manchin did, denounced it as a job-killer being imposed during President Barack Obama's final days in office.

"It is disappointing, but certainly not surprising, that the Obama Administration has decided to pursue this last-ditch effort to further harm West Virginia coal jobs, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said in a written statement. "Fortunately, the decision by voters last month makes today's announcement by the Office of Surface Mining an exercise in futility. Working with President-elect Trump and our Republican congressional majority, I am confident that we will be able to use the Congressional Review Act to stop this rule from taking effect.

Coal already is struggling under steep competition from cheaper and cleaner-burning natural gas, as well as regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas pollution that contributes to climate change. …

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