According to The State Journal, Tomblin was one of 10 witnesses to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources at a September 26 field hearing in Charleston. “Jobs at Risk: Community Impacts of the Obama Administration’s Effort to Rewrite the Stream Buffer Zone Rule” also included coal mining veterans, the presidents of the West Virginia and Ohio coal associations, a representative of CONSOL Energy, environmental experts and community organizers. All witnesses offered differing opinions of how a possible rewrite could affect jobs and the economy not only in West Virginia, but also across the nation.
“Over the past three years, the (Environmental Protection Agency) and other regulatory agencies have relentlessly pursued an ill-advised agenda threatening one of our state’s leading industries and tens of thousands of West Virginia jobs,” Tomblin said. “I am deeply concerned about the direction of federal agencies, including the EPA and the OSM have recently taken in the regulation of the coal industry.”
According to committee members, analysts hired by the Obama administration estimate a rewritten rule could cost up to 7,000 coal mining jobs. That also has the potential to increase the number of people living in poverty, which is already on the rise across the nation. “Continuing to work on a rule that will knowingly eliminate thousands of jobs and will result in 29,000 people living below the poverty level is inexcusable policy,” said Subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn, R-Colo. “It is our job as lawmakers to institute policies that will create jobs and make lives better for Americans. Instead, this administration is pursuing a rule that will do exactly the opposite.”
Roger Horton, a 30-year coal mining veteran and member of United Mine Workers Local 5958, said this proposal is part of an “open war” on the coal mining industry and would “cripple the viability of West Virginia and other coal producing states as sources of domestic energy.” He also cautioned that if implemented, the rule change would “throw the nation into an energy crisis the likes of which have never been seen.”
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., sits on the committee and attended part of the hearing. In her opening statement, she said West Virginians are willing to create jobs, but only without government interference. “West Virginians are ready to lead this nation out of recession while making us more energy independent,” she said. “Unfortunately, this cannot happen in the current regulatory environment. Folks I talk to back here keep telling me they are ready and willing to create jobs if only the federal government will get off their backs.”