Rules designed to protect rivers and streams hit the skids Tuesday when the House passed a bill directed at Obama administration regulations that might further hamstring the coal mining industry.
The bill, introduced by Wisconsin Republican Rep. Alex Mooney, passed by a 235-188 margin and received unanimous support from House GOP members, with four Democrats joining in favor.
The Office of Surface Mining (OSM) rule would be delayed until it can complete a battery of tests to and a scientific review – the bill would also force the Obama administration to reveal information about how the regulation was designed.
Obama has threatened to veto the GOP-backed bill.
“Taken together, these changes will destroy up to 77,000 coal mining jobs nationwide, including up to 52,000 in the Appalachia region,” Mooney said in a floor speech on Tuesday, leading up to Obama’s State of the Union Address.
He added: “This would be devastating to states like my home state — like West Virginia — which have already been hit hard by President Obama’s war on coal.”
Democrats, for their part, said Tuesday that the fears of unemployment from the regulations are unfounded.
“The majority is falling back on the same political playbook they’ve used time and time again: attack, obstruct and delay,” California Democratic Rep. Alan Lowenthal said, adding, “It’s really all about delay, it’s not about the policy.”
Still, the regulation, along with Obama’s overall antagonistic view toward coal, among other fossil fuel burning industries, has left a bad taste in the mouths of legislators from coal mining-reliant states.
A coalition of 26 states that are heavily dependent on the coal industry filed lawsuits in October challenging Obama’s environmental policies.
Showing his disgust for the Obama administration’s energy policies, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell invited a former coal miner to attend the State of The Union Address.
The House also dismissed a series of amendments offered by Democrats allowing the bill to move forward if it etches out guarantees that water near coal mines will be safe to drink.
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