U.S. Representative Rick Boucher today introduced legislation to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from issuing harmful regulations on Appalachian mining permits. Boucher joined his colleagues Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Nick Rahall (D-WV) in introduction of the legislation.
"In Southwest Virginia's coal producing region, mining is the cornerstone of our economy. The coal industry creates some of the highest paying jobs in the local economy, and the products and services purchased in the course of mining operations create thousands of additional jobs in support industries. For these reasons, it is critical that any regulation on coal mining operations balances environmental concerns with the economic benefits the coal industry provides.
"The proposed regulations put forth by the EPA in April fail to achieve this goal and will harm Appalachian mining operations. Our legislation will prevent the EPA from moving forward with these regulations and will force the agency to undertake its thorough rulemaking process including extensive public participation and outside peer review before moving forward with any regulatory changes regarding Appalachian mining operations," Boucher said.
On April 1, 2010, the EPA issued guidance entitled "Improving EPA Review of Appalachian Surface Coal Mining Operations under the Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act and the Environmental Justice Executive Order." The measure introduced today would prevent the EPA from moving forward with this regulatory action without first undertaking a lengthy rulemaking process.
Congressman Boucher has consistently fought unnecessary regulation of the coal industry including:
· In March, Congressman Boucher and his colleague Nick Rahall (D-WV) introduced a measure to halt EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions for two years giving Congress time to develop a pro-coal regulatory program (3/4/2010).
· In August 2009, Congressman Boucher urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to retain the Nationwide 21 Permit for Surface Mining (8/4/2009).
· In October 2009, Congressman Boucher in coordination with industry proposed a new surface mining permitting process for the Appalachian region (10/14/2009).
· In July 2010, Boucher led a bipartisan group of his colleagues in opposing the EPA's proposal to regulate coal ash (7/29/10).
"It is essential to the promotion of Southwest Virginia's economy that surface coal mining operations continue. For that reason, I have consistently fought regulations which fail to strike the necessary balance between environmental protection and economic practicality," Boucher concluded.