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Bishop Requests GAO Report on Stream Buffer Zone Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 15, 2015 - Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) today requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a review of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s (“OSM”) compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in the development and drafting of the Obama Administration’s Stream Buffer Zone Rule (SBZR).  The Department of the Interior is expected to issue the proposed rule tomorrow. 

NEPA requires OSM, as the lead rulemaking agency, to involve states as cooperating agencies in the drafting of the SBZR. The state agencies have alleged that OSM has not provided for meaningful participation in the process, leading nine of ten states to withdraw from participation in the rule’s development. 

As Chairman Bishop stated in the letter to GAO:

“The cooperating agencies for the SBZR rewrite were exposed to OSM’s exclusionary tactics, failure to ‘provide for meaningful participation,’ and continual limiting of the states’ involvement over the past several years.  Due to these failures some states have withdrawn from their MOUs and are no longer part of the environmental review process for the Stream Protection Rule…We request that GAO provide…information regarding the development of the SBZR and responsibilities of OSM under NEPA.”

Click here to view the full letter to GAO. 

Click below to view states that have withdrawn as cooperating agencies.

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-226-9019

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