D.C. – The House
Natural Resources Committee today held an oversight hearing on the status of
the Obama Administration’s rewrite of a sweeping coal regulation known as the Stream Buffer Zone Rule, during which U.S.
Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson questionedJoseph
Pizarchik, Director, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
(OSM), U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), on the lack of transparency
governing of the rulemaking process and the potential for huge economic losses
under the new regulation.
entire process has lacked transparency and failed to even consider the full
impact that this regulation will have upon local economies in Pennsylvania and
across the country,” Thompson stated.
two years, the Committee has conducted an ongoing investigation
into the Obama Administration’s rewrite of the Rule. The OSM is the chief
federal office in charge of the Rule’s rewrite.
Committee released a report on the issue last year, which detailed the rushed
and unorthodox rulemaking process at the OSM, including attempts to conceal the
Rule’s full economic impacts. Specifically, the report found that between
133,441 and 273,227 jobs are at risk as a result of this proposed rule; with
between 55,120 and 79,870 losses in direct mining jobs. Furthermore, the
report found that as many as 220,000 jobs are at risk in the Appalachia region
alone as a consequence of the proposed rule.
conduct of OSM is emblematic of the Obama Administration’s complete disregard
for the health of our economy,” Thompson added. “This White House will
stop at no end to bend the rules and assault the coal industry along with the
millions of jobs it supports.”
The Interior Department has largely stonewalled the
Committee’s investigation into the rewrite of the coal regulation and failed to
comply with multiple subpoenas for specific documents.
pressed Director Pizarchik on the OSM’s “plan for seeking input from State
cooperating agencies between now and the time the stream protection rule’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is published for public comment in 2014.”
Pizarchik, the chief officer in charge of the rewrite, which began in 2008,
stated he does not believe there have been any contacts during the last year
with States or other cooperating agencies.
regulations require that OSM collaborate “to the fullest extent possible” with
all cooperating agencies, including States.
cooperating agencies been provided with the new draft alternatives that OSM is
considering?” Thompson added. Director Pizarchik was unaware of
any such communications.
regulations also require that OSM collaborate with cooperating agencies “at the
earliest possible time,” so that all stakeholders can evaluate the rule and
consider possible alternatives.