Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) today introduced legislation that would protect thousands of energy jobs in Indiana and across the country. The Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act, which Coats also introduced in the 112th Congress, would block the administration's efforts to rewrite an existing mining regulation.
"This common-sense legislation will protect American jobs and block the administration from issuing a harmful regulation," said Coats. "After five years of environmental analysis, a sensible rule was put in place that strikes the right balance between protecting streams and producing an important energy resource. Changing this rule will cost the jobs of hardworking Americans in Indiana and other states and weaken an already fragile economy."
The Coats bill would prevent the Department of the Interior's Office of Surface Mining (OSM) from rewriting the current stream buffer zone rule or "Stream Protection Rule." The stream buffer zone rule prohibits mining within 100 feet of a stream, unless the activity "will not adversely affect the water quantity or quality." After an extensive five-year process that included 40,000 public comments, two proposed rules and 5,000 pages of environmental analysis from five agencies, the rule was updated in 2008. In contrast, to date the administration has not provided any evidence or data to justify a change to the rule.
According to the Obama administration's own estimates, the new regulation could cost up to 7,000 coal mining jobs and negatively impact local economies in 22 states.
A recent study found that a revised "Stream Protection Rule" from this administration would:
-Jeopardize between 133,441 and 273,227 direct mining and mining-related jobs, with the Appalachia region facing the largest losses;
-Effectively eliminate between 30.4 percent and 41.5 percent of recoverable resources from both surface and underground mines;
-Decrease the annual production value of coal between $14 billion and $20 billion; and
-Eliminate between $4 billion and $5 billion in annual tax revenue to the federal and state governments. States and tribes would also lose substantial coal lease revenues from production royalties and lease bonus bids.
Co-sponsors of the bill include Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), James Risch (R-Idaho), David Vitter (R-La.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).