Friday, November 04, 2011

Federal strip-mine chief defends effort to draft new 'stream buffer rule' as compliance with law

New regulations to protect Appalachian streams from strip mining would not kill coal jobs as Republicans claim, the head of the U.S. Office of Surface Mining said today at a hearing where he drew heat from GOP critics. (Photo by Paul Corbit Brown)

"This administration continues down this road of job-killing regulatory policies," Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, told OSMRE Director Joe Pizarchik. "It is mind-boggling to me that you can't, number one, admit that and, number two, stop that." Replied Pizarchik, a former top Pennsylvania environmental regulator, "It's not a job-killing rulemaking."

"He added that agency documents leaked earlier this year that showed the rule having a significant economic impact have 'no basis in fact'," Manuel Quinones reports for Environment & Energy News. Those documents "show state regulators' concerns about the preliminary documents prepared by a contractor hired by OSM to develop the rule's environmental impact statement."

Pizarchik said a new "stream buffer rule" is needed to follow the 1977 strip-mine law's ban on "material damage to the hydrological balance outside the permit area" because a rule enacted in the final days of the George W. Bush administration allows coal operators to bury streams. (Read more; subscription required)

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