The US Department of the Interior has proposed a new rule regarding coal mining and clean water. And that new rule has drawn an immediate response from Wyoming Senator John Barrasso. Here is the release from the Dept. of the Interior…

Following a robust public process, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Janice Schneider, and Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) Director Joseph Pizarchik today released proposed regulations to prevent or minimize impacts to surface water and groundwater from coal mining. The proposed rule would protect about 6,500 miles of streams nationwide over a period of 20 years, preserving community health and economic opportunities while meeting the nation’s energy needs.

“This proposed rule would accomplish what Americans expect from their government – a modern and balanced approach to energy development that safeguards our environment, protects water quality, supports the energy needs of the nation, and makes coalfield communities more resilient for a diversified economic future,” said Secretary Jewell. “We are committed to working with coalfield communities as we support economic activity while minimizing the impact coal production has on the environment that our children and grandchildren will inherit.”

The proposed Stream “The proposed rule would also provide the mining industry with something it has asked for time and again – regulatory certainty,” said Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Janice Schneider. “The rule would make it clear which requirements apply to which types of streams, and how to determine what types of streams are present. Because of this clarity, companies can better prepare and plan.”

The proposed rule would require coal companies to test and monitor the condition of streams that their mining might impact before, during and after their operations. This feature would provide baseline data to ensure that operators could detect and correct problems if or when they arise.

The proposed rule would also require companies to restore streams and return mined-over areas to the uses they were capable of supporting prior to mining activities, and replanting them with native trees and vegetation unless a conflicting land use is implemented. Through clear, measurable standards, the proposed rule would promote operational accountability to achieve the environmental restoration required when operations were permitted. Moreover, economic impacts were thoroughly analyzed and the proposed rule is projected to have a minimal impact on the coal industry overall.

And here is the response from Senator Barrasso’s office…

“It’s outrageous that less than a month after being rebuked by the U.S. Supreme Court for ignoring the costs of its regulations, the administration is doing it again with this job-crushing, anti-coal rule. It’s no secret that this overreaching rule is designed to help put coal country out of business. Less coal production means more Americans will be out of work and families will be forced to pay more just to keep the lights on.

“There is bipartisan opposition to this rule in the Senate. We’ll work to advance legislation that will halt this assault on affordable electricity and coal jobs across the country.”