At the signing, President Trump said this action stands by his promise of saving American jobs, especially those at mines across the U.S., and eliminating “wasteful regulations that do nothing.”
“This rule we’re eliminating it’s a major threat to your jobs, and we’re going to get rid of that threat immediately,” Trump said. “We’re going to fight for you like I promised I would in the campaign.”
The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate approved the measure in early February that will nullify the Stream Protection Rule that was finalized by the Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement on December 20. The rule addresses the impacts of surface coal mining operations on surface water, groundwater and the productivity of mining operation sites.
The blocked regulation would have duplicated existing regulations already in place to protect Americans, a statement from the White House said.
The House approved the measure, 228-194, with nine Republicans voting against the repeal and four Democrats supporting it. The Senate voted 54-45 in favor of the measure.
In the House, the legislation was brought forth by Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH). After introducing the bill, he said, “Make no mistake about it, this Obama administration rule is not designed to protect streams. Instead, it was an effort to regulate the coal mining industry right out of business — by issuing duplicative and overly burdensome regulations, and preempting state agencies that have historically been tasked with regulating America’s coal industry.”
The final rule updated the 33-year-old regulations with stronger requirements for surface coal mining operations. The rule would require companies to restore streams and return mined areas to the uses they were capable of supporting prior to mining activities, and replant these areas with native trees and vegetation, unless that would conflict with the implemented land use. The rule requires the testing and monitoring of the condition of streams that might be affected by mining — before, during and after their operations — to provide baseline data that ensures operators can detect and correct problems that could arise, and restore mined areas to their previous condition.
An identical resolution was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, with the help of West Virginia Sen. Shelly Moore Capito.
Those in the coal industry applauded Trump’s actions.
“President Trump has followed through on his promise to repeal the Stream Protection Rule, which was the single greatest threat to the jobs and family livelihoods of our employees that I have seen in 60 years of coal mining experience,” said Robert E. Murray, president and CEO, Murray Energy. “We would also like to thank Congressman Bill Johnson (R-OH) for his leadership in effectuating this repeal, as well as the support of many other members of Congress.”