Mining Jobs Protection Act will end EPA’s unfair permitting practices
Mar 08 2011
U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) and U.S. Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (WV-02) introduced legislation today to protect Appalachian coal miners from an overreaching Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its war on coal.
In response to EPA’s recent “strangulation by regulation,” the Mining Jobs Protection Act aims to eliminate the backlog of surface mining permits that has created uncertainty in the business community, threatening some 80,000 high-paying Appalachian coal mining jobs. Currently, mining operations must obtain a 404 permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in consultation with EPA before work may commence. Since 2009, however, the EPA has overstepped its legal authority to hold up dozens of permits in Appalachia, and last month, took a wholly unprecedented action by retroactively vetoing a long-standing mining permit in Logan County, WV.
The Rogers-Capito legislation directs EPA to “use it or lose it” when deciding to invoke its veto authority, putting in place a 60-day limit for EPA to justify whether a permit will be approved or denied and injecting much-needed certainty into the regulatory process. In addition, the bill ensures that EPA cannot use its veto retroactively.
“As I reiterated to EPA Administrator Jackson last week, it all comes down to jobs. Coal is a vital sector of Kentucky’s economy, sustaining some 200,000 jobs, and essential to our national energy security, providing some 50% of our country’s electricity,” stated Rogers, member of the Congressional Coal Caucus. “Continued and arbitrary delays in the permitting process are threatening to put our people out of work. With unemployment hovering at 9%, our job-creating industries need regulatory certainty – not more of EPA’s an aggressive and overzealous ‘strangulation by regulation.’ The legislation that Congresswoman Capito and I introduced today limits EPA’s authority and ends its unofficial war on coal, restoring certainty and stability to employers and helping put Kentuckians back to work.”
“The EPA has no right to arbitrarily revoke previously approved permits in the name of advancing an anti-coal agenda. Intentionally delaying the approval process has led to a slow-bleed of jobs throughout Appalachia at a time when we should be focusing on making it easier for businesses to stay afloat. Our miners should be able to conduct their day-to-day business and make investments in the future without a veil of uncertainty hovering over the industry. Thousands of my constituents depend on the mining industry to put food on the table, and I will fight to keep it from being targeted by those who wish to use regulatory authority to launch the so-called ‘war on coal,’” stated Capito, cofounder of the Congressional Coal Caucus.
Sens. McConnell, Inhofe, and Paul introduced similar legislation in the U.S. Senate last week.