March 23, 2016
Today, the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing on the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposal for the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE). Mr. Joseph Pizarchik, Director of OSMRE in the Department of the Interior, testified before the panel.
Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV), chief sponsor of H.R. 1644, the Supporting Transparent Regulatory and Environmental Actions in Mining (STREAM), which passed the House in January, criticized OSMRE for ignoring states’ input in the development of the stream rule.
“Whatever your intentions were, it is clear that this whole rulemaking process has been mismanaged and that state agencies have been ignored time and time again. I guess that is what happens when an extremist environmental agenda is shoved down the throats of hard working Americans... This rule should be scrapped and wait for a new administration to take over,” Rep. Mooney said.
H.R. 1644 increases transparency and prevents the development of regulations concerning stream buffer zones that are beyond the agency’s authority.
Subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn (R-CO), following the hearing, aired his disdain for ORMRE’s lack of transparency.
“The narrative they gave us today is that the states are happy. Despite memoranda of understanding that established the States as cooperating agencies, the OSM compiled the Draft Environmental Impact Study and proposed rulemaking, behind closed doors, effectively shutting out states and experts,” Rep. Lamborn stated.
“We get a totally different story from OSM than what we are hearing from states,” Lamborn added. “Again, someone’s not telling the truth because there’s such a stark difference between the OSM narrative and the states’ narrative.”
Similar concerns with the ongoing controversy surrounding the stream rulemaking are outlined in a bipartisan letter sixteen members of the House Appropriations Committee sent to OSMRE on March 18.
Click here to view the full witness testimony.