Sunday, November 09, 2008

Obama expected to tighten regulations on coal

"Coal operators and coal-fired utilities should brace for tougher regulation of mine safety, strip mining and especially greenhouse gas emissions" when Barack Obama becomes president, Ken Ward Jr. tells West Virginia readers in this morning's Charleston Gazette. Interests that often oppose the coal industry "are looking for Obama to reverse Bush administration rule changes, beef up enforcement, and put the nation's first ever limits on carbon dioxide from power plants."

From the industry's point of view, Ward writes, "among the more important decisions will be who takes over two government agencies that are little known outside the coalfields: the Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Interior Department's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. Decisions about such sub-Cabinet posts are months away."

The United Mine Workers and other mine-safety advocates want MSHA to reverse Bush administration actions and revive "more than a dozen tougher rule proposals that were dropped from the agency agenda after Bush took office in 2001," Ward reports. "And they want MSHA to focus less on 'compliance assistance' for operators and more on simply enforcing the federal Mine Safety Act ... speed up implementation of the 2006 MINER Act, and re-examine what MSHA is doing to combat a resurgence of black lung disease in Appalachia."

"Environmental groups are looking for similar efforts by Obama to toughen enforcement of water pollution and reclamation rules that govern strip mining," Ward writes. The groups disgaree on whether mountaintop-removal mining should be limited by administrative action or by law, a route that would probably be more lasting but much more subject to politics and industry lobbying. (Read more)

No comments: