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Coats Offers Bill to Block Harmful New Federal Regulation, Protect Energy Jobs

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) today introduced legislation that would protect thousands of American energy jobs by blocking the administration's current efforts to rewrite an existing mining regulation.

"Here is another example of the Obama administration ignoring a carefully established balance between environmental protection and economic impacts," said Coats. "The federal government already invested five years of environmental analysis to put in place a sensible rule that strikes the right balance between protecting streams and producing an important energy resource."

"The Obama administration's insatiable desire to overregulate is weakening an already fragile economy" added Coats. "This legislation will protect the jobs of hardworking Americans in Indiana and other states and block the administration from issuing another harmful regulation."

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." The rule was updated in 2008 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. To date, the administration has not provided any evidence or data to justify a change to the rule.

The Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act is supported by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). The bill also has received the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers and the National Mining Association.

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 the 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.

Congressman Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives. The House bill cleared the House Natural Resources Committee earlier this year.

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