Sen. Conrad: Mining policy dispute remains spending-bill sticking point

The White House and Capitol Hill lawmakers are racing to make a deal on a six-month spending package to ward off a partial government shutdown at the end of Friday, when the current stopgap plan expires. Passage of a one-week stopgap is also possible.

Much of the discussion of environmental issues in the federal spending fight has focused on GOP plans to blocking funding for implementation of Environmental Protection Agency climate change rules.

But Conrad’s comment suggests that other environmental matters are dividing the sides.

The House GOP’s fiscal year 2011 spending plan, approved in February, included several provisions to thwart what Republicans (and some Democrats) call burdensome restrictions on Appalachian coal-mining.

The GOP plan to fund the government through September included Rep. Morgan GriffithMorgan GriffithGOP whip won't commit to new CBO score before vote Medicaid work requirements could be added to ObamaCare bill The Hill's Whip List: 36 GOP no votes on ObamaCare repeal plan MORE’s (R-Va.) amendment that blocks funding for EPA’s effort to toughen water quality protections for Appalachian coal-mining projects.

It also contained a separate amendment by Rep. David McKinleyDavid McKinleyU.S. Economy, contractors, and American workers benefit from PLAs Overnight Regulation: Justices won't halt Obama water rule case | Greens, states sue over delayed energy rules Lawmakers ask Sessions to exempt federal prisons from hiring freeze MORE (R-W.Va.) that would hinder EPA’s ability to block Clean Water Act permits for mountaintop-removal projects; and Rep. Bill Johnson’s (R-Ohio) amendment that would prohibit the Interior Department from using fiscal year 2011 money to develop rules governing protection of streams from mountaintop-removal mining waste.

Aides to BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbyists bounce back under Trump Business groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Chaffetz won't run for reelection MORE and Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDraft House bill ignites new Yucca Mountain fight Week ahead: House to revive Yucca Mountain fight Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road MORE (D-Nev.) could not immediately be reached for comment late Friday morning.

Mountaintop removal is a type of strip mining in which companies blow the tops off peaks in order to access the seams of coal beneath. The rock, soil and other debris is pushed into adjacent valleys, burying tiny streams that form the headwaters of larger rivers below.


—Mike Lillis contributed.