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Indiana Leaders, Industry Groups Strongly Oppose New Coal Regulation
Updated December 22, 2016 7:26 AM
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - The Indiana Coal Council issued a statement yesterday asking Congress to swiftly pass a Congressional Review Act resolution that would reject the Interior Department's proposed stream rule, a move both Vice-President Elect Governor Mike Pence and Governor-Elect Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb have both opposed publicly for a number of reasons.

"This is a rule in search of a problem and will provide little in the way of environmental benefit, instead causing significant permitting delays while duplicating numerous requirements already mandated by other federal agencies," said Bruce Stevens, Indiana Coal Council president. "We are hopeful that Congress will take swift action to nullify the latest in a long line of regulations targeting the nation's coal industry."
Governor-Elect Holcomb issued a statement in September opposing the rule, and Vice-President Elect Pence issued a letter in October 2015.

"I join Gov. Pence and other state and local officials in urging the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement to withdraw the proposed Stream Protection Rule immediately," said Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb. "Protecting our environment is a serious issue to Hoosiers and this administration, and Indiana has found the right balance between critical environmental stewardship and the protection of energy sources so vital to our state's economy."

Fifteen Indiana state legislators and mayors reached out to the federal government earlier in the year to also oppose the rule.

A technical analysis of the impact of the proposed rule shows that at least a third of coal related jobs are now at risk owing to the massive volumes of coal that would be uneconomic to mine.

Stevens of the Indiana Coal Council says since 2014 Indiana has lost more than 500 coal-mining jobs, resulting in tens of millions in taxable income at risk in Indiana's local communities. "That's revenue that goes to roads and schools, in addition to feeding and housing coal-mining families, and those of families that work for businesses that supply the coal industry," Stevens said.

Yesterday U.S. Senate Majority Speaker Mitch McConnell (R., KY) issued a statement, echoing Stevens' concerns: "This costly regulation, along with others that are already having a devastating impact, are part of the Administration's plan to demolish these coal communities right now and long after the president has left office."

The rule, which the Trump Administration has said it opposes and will act to rescind, provides no discernable environmental benefits while duplicating and interfering with extensive existing environmental protections at both the federal and state levels--duplication and interference which is expressly prohibited under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.

"The decision to promulgate this duplicative rule at this stage is post-election midnight regulation and therefore obstructionism at its worst," said Hal Quinn, NMA's president and chief executive officer. "This is after the agency failed in its obligation to engage mining states in the rule's development and ended up with a massive rulemaking that is a win for bureaucracy and extreme environmental groups, and a loss for everyday Americans."

Quinn said the rule's primary purpose appears to be to support the environmental lobby's "keep it in the ground" platform, locking away important U.S. domestic coal reserves, while putting tens of thousands of Americans out of work, raising energy costs for millions of Americans, and preserving the agency's regulatory mission that is diminished with the declining number of coal mines.

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