Oversight: Obama Administration's Effort to Rewrite Regulations on Coal Production
For the past year, the Committee has conducted an investigation into the Obama Administration’s rewrite of coal regulations. The Administration has failed to fully comply with repeated requests for documents from the Committee looking into why this rewrite was initiated, whether the rewrite of the rule is being properly managed, whether political implications of the new regulations are unduly influencing the process, and the economic impacts of the new regulations. The Administration’s sweeping new rewrites could cost thousands of American jobs and decrease American energy production.
UPDATE (9/20/2012): Committee staff releases report on the Obama Administration's job-destroying rewrite of coal production regulation. Read the full report HERE.
Almost immediately after taking office, the Obama Administration began rewriting a recently completed coal regulation, the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule (Rule). This unnecessary action, carried out through the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) at the Department of the Interior, proposed to dramatically alter a regulation that that took over five years of environmental analysis and careful scientific consideration to complete.
Despite the fact that a thorough Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was conducted for the 2008 Rule, OSM hired another contractor to write an entirely new EIS for the Obama Administration’s efforts to rewrite the Rule. An Associated Press story revealed that this draft EIS concluded that the Obama Administration’s regulation could cost over 7,000 mining jobs and cause economic harm in 22 states. Shortly after this information was made public, the Obama Administration criticized and dismissed the contractor it had selected to conduct this analysis.
Over a year ago, in February 2011, Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings and Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Chairman Doug Lamborn began an oversight investigation into the Obama Administration’s new coal regulations. The Committee is looking into serious questions regarding why this rewrite was initiated, how the rulemaking process itself is being managed, the Administration’s dismissal of the contractor, whether the political implications of the Rule are unduly influencing the process, and the impacts the proposed Rule will have on jobs, the economy, and coal production.
Over the past year, a series of letters have been sent to OSM Director Joseph Pizarchik and Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, seeking additional information and documents. However, the Administration has yet to fully comply with document requests and continues to withhold the vast majority of requested materials.
On January 25, 2012, the Chairmen sent a final request for the Administration to comply with the Committee’s document requests and noticed the intention to move to compel the production of the documents if the final February deadline is not met.
Documents sought and not produced include: