West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is wasting no time attacking a last-minute environmental regulation pushed by the Obama Administration.
It’s called the Stream Protection Rule, and Morrisey says it can hurt coal mining jobs around the state.
Morrisey said the rule will prohibit any changes to the land and environment around the coal mine and make it difficult, if not impossible, to mine.
The rule should not displace or change state regulations protecting streams already place, he said.
“This is a last-ditch attempt by the Obama Administration to stifle coal,” he said. “We are not going to let that happen. That’s why we filed and we will aggressively challenge it.”
Morrisey said 13 states are part of the suit, with Ohio and West Virginia leading the way.
A move is also under way in Congress, he said, to quickly nip the rule in the bud before it goes into effect.
Called the Supporting Transparent Regulatory and Environmental Actions in Mining (STREAM) Act, the proposed bill gives Congress the right to review proposals like the Stream Protection Rule before implementation.
“They (legislators) can step in and override these last-minute initiatives,” he said, adding that he hopes Congress can “quickly set aside this regulation” but the two-pronged attack should see results.
The U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) finalized the Stream Protection Rule last December.
Morrisey has already successfully challenged the Environmental Protection Agency emission standards changes that would, he said, add another blow to the coal industry.
All of these regulations have hurt coal jobs, he said, and he hopes the Trump Administration will bring a new direction in environmental regulations.
Morrisey is also optimistic Trump’s pick to head the EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who is now undergoing the confirmation process.
“He would do a terrific job at the EPA and be a lot more receptive to West Virginians than the current administration,” he said.
Morrisey said he is also ready to work with newly inaugurated Gov. Jim Justice.
“We are rolling up our sleeves and we want him to be a successful governor,” he said. “We will hear his ideas and we obviously want to work with him. We need to work to remove the barriers for job creation in our state. We want to work with the new governor on any issue to move the state forward and create jobs.”
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