Interior backs off claim about jobs saved by coal rule change

Interior backs off claim about jobs saved by coal rule change

The Interior Department has removed an employment estimate from a blog post about an old coal mining rule after questions about the figure’s validity. 

A Feb. 21 blog post on Interior’s website claimed that the Stream Protection Rule, a regulation to protect waterways from the negative impacts of coal mining, would have led to the loss of “7,000 clean coal jobs in 22 states.”   

Days before the blog post went up, on Feb. 16, President Trump signed a resolution stripping that rule from the books. But supporters of the rule disputed the jobs figure.

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On Friday, the figure was removed from the post, E&E News reported on Monday. The post was updated “for clarification,” it now says, and it still hails Trump’s action blocking the rule as one that will “harness the power of American energy, restore their jobs and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens.”

Interior’s blog post cited numbers out of step with those from the Office of Surface Mining, which published the rule in the closing days of the Obama administration. 

According to their research, the rule would end about 124 mining jobs each year by decreasing demand for coal. But implementing the rule would create about 280 compliance-related jobs each year, for a net gain in employment. 

Industry groups have estimated the rule would endanger thousands of workers in the sector. The 7,000 jobs figure may have come from a report by a consulting firm with which federal officials had “widespread dissatisfaction,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) wrote in a letter to acting Interior Secretary Jack Haugrud last week. 

In a Monday statement, Grijalva, the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, pledged “constant scrutiny” of information released by the Trump administration. 

“As long as President Trump is setting the tone, no fact is safe and no science is respected in this administration,” he said. 

“Maintaining constant scrutiny will be the only way to get reliable information to the public, and my Democratic colleagues and I are here to provide it."