U.S. Senators John Barrasso and Mike Enzi have introduced legislation to fight a rule change by the U.S. Department of the Interior they say could have a sizable impact on the coal industry in the region.
The Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act, would if adopted prevent the DOI’s Office of Surface Mining from rewriting current rules requiring coal companies to keep operations 100 feet away from streams, or if that's not possible, to minimize damage to the surrounding habitat.
The rule first passed by Congress was updated in 2008 following an extensive public comment process and environmental analysis. In a media release, Sens. Barrasso and Enzi say the OSM has yet to justify that 2008 rule change with any evidence.
And Barrasso says the current administration has it's own agenda - to try to regulate coal producers out of existence. He says if the rewrite occurs thousands of coal mining jobs across the country could be lost. Enzi says he suggests the folks in Washington D.C. take a trip to Wyoming, where he says they'll learn more from a miner than they could ever learn from behind a desk.