Governor Earl Ray Tomblin called on the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources to take necessary and appropriate action to force the Office of Surface Mining and the Environmental Protection Agency to act within the limits of the authority given to them by Congress.
Gov. Tomblin made his appeal to the subcommittee today at an oversight field hearing titled, "Jobs at Risk: Community Impacts of the Obama Administration's Effort to Rewrite the Stream Buffer Zone Rule," which took place at the Kanawha County Courthouse. The committee was represented by its chairman, Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado and committee member Congressman Bill Johnson of Ohio.
The hearing is part of the Committee's investigation into the Obama Administration's Office of Surface Mining's (OSM) re-write of the revised Stream Buffer Zone Rule issued in December of 2008. The new rule would make significant changes to the Nation's coal mining regulatory program established by the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA).
"All told, more than 63,000 West Virginians work in jobs provided by the coal industry. That is 63,000 families," Gov. Tomblin said. "Think about it for a moment --that means approximately 250,000 people in a state with less than two million citizens are supported, in one way or another, by the mining of coal."
In his testimony, the Gov. Tomblin pointed out that the draft environmental impact statement that OSM is considering projects approximately a 30 percent decrease in surface mine coal production in the Appalachian basin; an estimated worst-case-scenario loss of 10,000 jobs; an approximate 13 percent loss in severance tax; and an estimated 11 percent decrease in income taxes.
"West Virginia coal miners, the brave workers in the world, should be confident about their future, enjoying the fruits of their hard work, building new homes, and saving for their children's education and their own retirement," Tomblin said. "They should not be worrying about an overbearing federal bureaucracy that threatens the very backbone of their lives."
He said, "You must restore balance to the relationship of the states and the federal government. You must demand an end to legislation by regulation."