Working With Congress, President Trump Repeals Stream Protection Rule

With coal miners looking over his shoulder, President Trump signs a bill repealing the Stream
Protection Rule.
On February 16, President Donald J. Trump signed legislation that will repeal the Stream Protection Rule, which he called “another terrible job-killing rule.” At the signing, President Trump said this action stands by his promise of saving American jobs, especially those at mines across the U.S., and eliminating “wasteful regulations that do nothing.”

“This rule we’re eliminating it’s a major threat to your jobs, and we’re going to get rid of that threat immediately,” Trump said. “We’re going to fight for you like I promised I would in the campaign.”

The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate approved the measure in early February that will nullify the Stream Protection Rule that was finalized by the Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement on December 20. The rule addresses the impacts of surface coal mining operations on surface water, groundwater and the productivity of mining operation sites.

The blocked regulation would have duplicated existing regulations already in place to protect Americans, a statement from the White House said. The House approved the measure, 228-194, with nine Republicans voting against the repeal and four Democrats supporting it. The Senate voted 54-45 in favor of the measure.

In the House, the legislation was brought forth by Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH). An identical resolution was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, with the help of West Virginia Sen. Shelly Moore Capito.

The final rule updated the 33-year-old regulations with stronger requirements for surface coal mining operations. The rule would require companies to restore streams and return mined areas to the uses they were capable of supporting prior to mining activities, and replant these areas with native trees and vegetation, unless that would conflict with the implemented land use. The rule requires the testing and monitoring of the condition of streams that might be affected by mining — before, during and after their operations — to provide baseline data that ensures operators can detect and correct problems that could arise, and restore mined areas to their previous condition.

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, labor groups and local governments argued the rule was drafted hastily and was a one-size-fits-all solution to a very local problem. “They argue the SPR would decimate the American coal industry,” the DOI said. “Thanks to Congress and the president working with local stakeholders, American energy jobs have been saved and harmful regulations repealed.”

Those in the coal industry applauded Trump’s actions. “President Trump has followed through on his promise to repeal the Stream Protection Rule, which was the single greatest threat to the jobs and family livelihoods of our employees that I have seen in 60 years of coal mining experience,” said Robert E. Murray, president and CEO, Murray Energy. “We would also like to thank Congressman Bill Johnson (R-OH) for his leadership in effectuating this repeal, as well as the support of many other members of Congress.”

As featured in Womp 2017 Vol 03 -