House panel to hold July 23 hearing on OSM’s buffer zone rule

Following through on its recent theme of the Obama “War on Coal,” the Republican majority on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources plans a July 23 hearing on the subject.

The hearing is entitled: “War on Jobs: Examining the Operations of the Office of Surface Mining and the Status of the Stream Buffer Zone Rule.” The hearing will feature testimony from Office of Surface Mining (OSM) Director Joseph Pizarchik and focus on the status of the Obama Administration’s rewrite of a 2008, Bush-era regulation, called the Stream Buffer Zone Rule, that Republicans said could cost thousands of jobs and cause economic harm in 22 states.

“At a time when American families are paying nearly double what they spent a decade ago on energy for their homes, Congress needs to make it easier to produce coal, not harder,” said Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn, R-Colo. “Unfortunately, President Obama continues to forge ahead with his war on coal, just last week announcing plans to unilaterally impose new red-tape and regulations on American coal production. Meanwhile, the Administration continues to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on an unnecessary and redundant rulemaking process that will only cause further economic harm and job loss. We expect answers from Director Pizarchik on the status of the Stream Buffer Zone Rule and why the Obama Administration has done everything possible to attack this inexpensive and abundant natural energy resource.”

“Coal is vital to a true ‘all-of-the-above’ energy policy,” said Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash. “Unfortunately, President Obama is standing in the way of coal production in America with onerous red-tape and regulations that are already causing devastating job losses. A White House advisor has admitted that a war on coal is ‘exactly what’s needed,’ and the Obama Administration appears ready to double down on their efforts. The rewrite of the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone rule is one of the most outrageous examples of President Obama’s regulatory war on both coal and American jobs. The Committee’s long-running investigation has exposed gross mismanagement of the rulemaking process, potential political interference, and the widespread economic harm this regulation would cause. It’s unacceptable that the Administration continues to refuse to comply with document requests and it’s well past time for them to be transparent about the status and economic impacts of their proposed coal regulation.”

A committee report released last year, entitled “President Obama’s Covert and Unorthodox Efforts to Impose New Regulation on Coal Mining and Destroy American Jobs,” covered the buffer zone rule, which allows coal companies to place rock and soil from mine sites within 100-foot buffer zones around adjacent streams. The report concluded that, “The Obama Administration’s campaign to impose this rewritten regulation must be halted and an open, transparent rulemaking that fairly accounts for job and economic impacts must be undertaken.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.