GOP bill blocking Obama coal rule set to hit House floor

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A Republican bill to block a new Obama administration coal mining rule is due to the hit the floor soon. 

Rep. Alex Mooney’s (R-W.Va.) Supporting Transparent Regulatory and Environmental Actions in Mining Act would prevent the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) from finalizing the mining rule until it goes through an extra scientific review and the administration releases more information about its formation. 

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Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), chairman of the House Rules Committee, announced Tuesday that the legislation is set to come before the committee next week. The Rules Committee is traditionally a bill’s final stop before it goes to the floor for a vote.

The OSM rule in question looks to update standards for buffer zones around streams where mining activities and waste are prohibited. Republicans say the bill would hurt the coal mining industry by creating new environmental regulations. 

“In my state ... the thought of losing thousands more jobs [is] unconscionable,” Mooney said at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing in September. 

“This newly proposed rule will not only impact coal fields in West Virginia and Appalachia, but also have widespread implications across the country.”

Democrats generally support the OSM’s rulemaking, arguing Republican concerns are overblown and that potential job losses because of it are negligible. The administration says the rule, more than six years in the making, will protect coal country waterways from the controversial mountaintop-removal mining process. 

Republicans have previously passed bills blocking the rule, most recently in 2014.