Beaver County Times: SWPA Republicans in U.S. House vote to block Obama rule limiting coal mining
Republican U.S. Reps. Keith Rothfus and Bill Shuster, both coal industry supporters, celebrated a House vote Wednesday night that would block an Obama administration rule limiting coal mining near streams.
The joint resolution, which the U.S. Senate was expected to vote on Thursday, would nullify the Stream Protection Rule written by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement in December and which went into effect Jan. 19, the day before President Donald Trump took office.
Lawmakers approved the resolution 228-194 along partisan lines with Republicans supporting it and Democrats opposing it. U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-18, Upper St. Clair Township, also voted for the measure.
“The Obama administration left no stone unturned in the war on coal on their way out and this big government regulation would have accomplished exactly what they wanted it to do -- it would have significantly weakened the coal industry,” said Shuster, R-9, Bedford County.
“With President Trump now in the White House,” Shuster said, “the days of a federal government that shuts out the coal mines when crafting regulations and doesn’t consider the drastic economic impacts that these rules have on our communities are over.”
Rothfus, R-12, Sewickley, an original co-sponsor on the legislation, said the rule’s purpose was to shut down the coal mining industry and kill jobs.
“I have gone into Cambria and Somerset County mines with miners who are proud of the work they do,” Rothfus said. “These workers depend on the family-sustaining wages their jobs provide. Today’s vote was a big step forward toward protecting the livelihoods of middle-class families in western Pennsylvania and in communities across the country.”
The resolution invokes the little-used Congressional Review Act to invalidate the rule the Interior Department said would protect 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forest from dumped coal-mining debris.
Under the review act, rules can be blocked if approved by the House and Senate and then signed by the president. Even more worrisome to environmental groups is that it prohibits future administrations from enacting similar rules.