March 25, 2014
The Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America Act would save American jobs and taxpayer dollars by preventing the Obama Administration from continuing a wasteful process to develop new job-destroying coal regulations.
The Obama Administration’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) is conducting a sweeping rewrite of a coal mining regulation (the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule) that will cost jobs and decrease American energy production.
The Administration discarded a rule that underwent five years of environmental review and public comment; entered into a court agreement with environmental groups to rewrite the rule in an unachievable time frame; spent millions of taxpayer dollars and hired new contractors to do the rewrite; fired the contractors when the news media revealed that their analysis showed the revision would cost 7,000 jobs and economic harm in 22 states; attempted to manipulate data to conceal the true economic impact; and is now refusing to answer basic questions on the status of the rewrite.
The Natural Resources Committee has conducted an extensive, ongoing investigation that has exposed gross mismanagement of the rulemaking process, potential political interference, and widespread economic harm the proposed regulation would cause.
The Obama Administration has already spent nearly $10 million taxpayer dollars conducting this rewrite over the past five years, with nothing to show for it, and is poised to spend millions more if it continues with this grossly mismanaged and misguided rulemaking.
The Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America Act is necessary to save American tax dollars and stop the Obama Administration from continuing with a reckless and unnecessary rulemaking process on a regulation that will directly cost thousands of hard-working American jobs and cause significant economic harm.
The bill would help put an end to the Obama Administration’s wasteful and disastrous rulemaking, implement the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule, and establish a responsible process for developing a rule that balances coal mining and environmental protection.
Myth vs. Fact on H.R. 2824:
MYTH: H.R. 2824 stops the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) from moving forward with a new rule, before a draft rule has ever been published or debated.
- FACT: This bill halts the Obama Administration’s grossly mismanaged and misguided rulemaking process that has gone on for over five years and cost taxpayers almost $10 million with NOTHING to show for it.
- FACT: This bill implements the 2008 rule that underwent broad review with tens of thousands of public comments and implements a responsible process to assess the effects of that rule and what additional changes may be necessary to manage coal mining and protect our environment.
MYTH: Since the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone rule was recently vacated by the U.S. District Court, this legislation would implement an “illegal” rule.
- FACT: The Court ruling strikes down the more environmentally protective 2008 rule and sets us back 30 years to a less environmentally responsible 1983 rule. The 2008 rule is more modern and more protective in limiting the impacts of coal mining than the 1983 rule, but one federal judge ruled that 2008 rule must be set aside due to a narrow procedural technicality.
- FACT: A single judge ruled that the because the 2008 rule didn’t have FORMAL consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service on possible impacts to endangered species, that the entire rule should be set aside and revert back to the 1983 rule. However, there were multiple meetings and discussions and consultations with the Fish and Wildlife Service regarding species when the 2008 rule was written. Compare this conscientious effort to protect species in the 2008 rule with the fact that there was absolutely zero consideration of endangered species in the 1983 rule.
- FACT: It makes no sense to discard a modern rule, where we know the ESA consultation took place, for a 30-year-old rule that we know had no consultation and is less environmentally restrictive.
MYTH: This legislation is an “unconscionable assault” on the health of coal mining communities.
- FACT: This bill protects coal mining communities by requiring full compliance with all environmental and health regulations.
- FACT: This bill implements the 2008 rule that received certification from the Environmental Protection Agency that complied fully with the Clean Water Act.
- FACT: The bill establishes a responsible process for implementing the most modern rule available and allows thoughtful measured process for additional rulemaking based on the real impacts of the 2008 rule.
MYTH: If enacted, this legislation would guarantee that no attempts could be made to protect streams and bodies of water surrounding mountain top mining.
- FACT: This bill enacts a rule that added significant environmental protections to protect streams and bodies of water while managing coal production.
- FACT: This bill directs the Secretary to begin immediately to study the effects of the 2008 rule for a specific period of time, then report on what additional protections may be necessary
MYTH: This bill is an attack on states’ rights because it forces states to enact an “illegal” regulation that was secretly drafted with virtually NO public comment and input from stakeholders.
- FACT: Right now, states have no clarity on whether to follow the 2008 or 1983 Stream Buffer Zone Rule or wait on the results of the wasteful reckless mismanaged multi-million dollar process that OSM is currently undergoing. This bill would give certainly to states by giving them clear rules to follow.
- FACT: The underlying law requires that states ALREADY meet or exceed requirements in Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA).
- FACT: This bill simply implements the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule that took over five years to codify with over 43,000 public comments – far from a “midnight” rule that was “secretly” drafted. It also sets in place a responsible process for moving forward with additional rules in the future to balance coal mining and environmental protection.
MYTH: This legislation advances the “witch hunt” investigation of the Obama Administration’s rewrite of the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule that uncovered no misconduct by the Administration.
- FACT: The Natural Resources Committee investigation uncovered gross mismanagement of the rulemaking process, potential political interference, and widespread economic destruction – 7,000 job losses and economic harm in 22 states.
- FACT: The Department of the Interior Office of Inspect General also recently released a report showing similar findings of mismanagement.
MYTH: The Obama Administration has been fully cooperative with the Natural Resources Committee’s investigation into the rewrite of the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule by providing the Committee with thousands of pages of documents and 25 hours of audio recordings.
- FACT: The Obama Administration has virtually stonewalled the Committee’s investigation by failing to comply with repeated subpoena requests. When documents are actually made available to the Committee for review, they are either heavily redacted or documents already publically available. The 25 hours of audio recordings were made available to the Committee through a third party source NOT the Obama Administration. Learn more by reading the Committee staff report: President Obama’s Covert And Unorthodox Efforts to Impose New Regulation on Coal Mining and Destroy American Jobs.
MYTH: Complying with the Natural Resources Committee’s investigation into the Obama Administration’s rewrite of the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone rule has “distracted” the Interior Department from completing the rulemaking process and wasted taxpayer dollars.
- FACT: It’s been over five years and the Obama Administration has wasted almost $10 million on this rewrite with NOTHING to show for it – missing countless deadlines to publish a draft rule.
- FACT: President Obama promised the American people that his Administration would be the most open and transparent in history, being open and transparent shouldn’t be a “distraction” for the Obama Administration. Yet even so, the Administration continues to stonewall the Committee’s legitimate oversight efforts and waste millions of taxpayer dollars by writing new job-destroying coal regulations in secret.
- FACT: The Department of the Interior Inspector General report issued in December contained an extension section titled, “Issues with the New Contract”, which, at the request of the Obama Administration, was heavily redacted from Congress and the public to hide in secret the real problems with the rulemaking and the Administration’s refusal to be open and transparent.
Chairman Hastings' Floor Statement on H.R. 2824, the "Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America Act" (3/25/2014)