GOP bill would block mountaintop mining rule

A House Republican introduced a bill Monday that would block the Obama administration’s efforts to restrict the controversial mountaintop removal coal mining process.

The Interior Department is planning to propose soon a regulation to restrict mountaintop removal mining near streams in an effort to protect streams in Appalachia from the mining waste.

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But Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.), a freshman, said the rule is part of the Obama administration’s “war on coal” and an example of how President Obama “is intent on destroying coal as a domestic energy source.”

Mooney’s bill would stop Interior’s Office of Surface Mining from going forward with the rule for at least a year, stop it from using the Clean Water Act to justify the rule and require the agency to conduct a study into the industry impacts of the regulation.

“According to industry estimates, the expected rule from OSM would shutter tens of thousands of jobs in West Virginia and hundreds of thousands nationwide,” Mooney said in the statement.

“The impact of such a serious hit to the coal industry would also have the effect of increasing home-energy prices for hardworking taxpayers.”

Environmentalists and wildlife advocates say the rule is essential to protecting streams and the ecosystems that rely on them from being damaged or polluted.

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), who chairs the Natural Resources Committee panel with jurisdiction over mineral resources, joined as a co-sponsor of the bill.

The House has previous voted multiple times to stop the rule, most recently a year ago.