WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer announced today the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1644, Supporting Transparent Regulatory and Environmental Actions in Mining Act or the STREAM Act. The bill directs the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) of the Department of the Interior to make available to the public 90 days prior to its publication any draft, final, or emergency rule as well as any related environmental analysis, or economic assessment relied on in the issuance of a rule. The Secretary would additionally be required to make publicly available the raw data used for a federally funded scientific product. If the Department of Interior were to fail to make publicly available any such data within six months, the Secretary of the Interior would be required to withdraw the rule or guidance. Cramer is a co-sponsor of the legislation.
“These regulations exceed OSM’s authority under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act and will destroy the coal industry while terminating thousands of good paying jobs,” said Cramer. “A review indicates the rule will cost producers in North Dakota alone approximately $50 million annually in compliance costs and sterilize (or strand) more than 600 million tons of otherwise mineable coal reserves worth approximately $12 billion at today’s minemouth prices.”
He said OSM’s own analysis has cited the rule would result in a loss of at least 7,000 jobs in Appalachia alone and drastically reduce coal production in 22 states. While there are no specific numbers for North Dakota, it is expected the new regulations will cause job loss in the state.”
As a former member of the North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) Cramer said he believes states do a better job of managing their own natural resources and protecting the environment. “The PSC has effectively regulated the coal mining industry since the original 1983 Stream Buffer Zone rule and could have continued its effective management under the 2008 rule which was rejected by environmentalists,” said Cramer. “In North Dakota, the PSC ensures any land is restored to a condition of “as good or better” than before mining occurred. The new rules will impose nationwide requirements based on mining in the Appalachian mountains which don’t work in North Dakota. OSM has failed to justify the need for this rule, especially west of the Mississippi.”
Cramer has spoken out about the lack of time made available to the public and industry to comment on the proposed rule. In July, he signed a letter urging the comment period for the Stream Protection Rule be extended by at least 120-days. A 30-day extension was granted. View Cramer’s letter here.