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Obama rushes out 11th-hour regulations targeting coal mining

At virtually the last possible moment, the Obama administration on Monday rolled out new regulations making it even more difficult and more costly to mine coal in the U.S., a final shot against the already beleaguered coal industry as the president leaves office.

The Interior Department’s Stream Protection Rule will go into effect 30 after its official release and publication in the federal register, meaning it likely will be implemented Jan. 19 — one day before President-elect Donald Trump takes office. Mr. Trump has vowed to undo much of his predecessor’s environmental regulations, including rules that target coal mining.

The regulations will add significant new costs to coal-mining companies, many of which are already struggling to stay afloat. Critics, including leaders in the energy sector and Republicans on Capitol Hill, have said the proposal surely will lead to even more layoffs in the sector.

The broad new rules require coal companies to “to avoid mining practices that permanently pollute streams, destroy drinking water sources, increase flood risk, and threaten forests.”

More importantly, companies themselves will be required to test and monitor the conditions of all streams that could be affected by their mining, “before, during and after their operations,” the Interior Department said. The testing is meant to provide baseline data that would help government agencies determine if there had been any pollution due to coal mining.

“The responsible rule released today represents a modern and balanced approach to meeting the nation’s energy needs,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement. “Regulations need to keep pace with modern mining practices, so we worked closely with many stakeholders to craft a plan that protects water quality, supports economic opportunities, safeguards our environment and makes coalfield communities more resilient for a diversified economic future.”

Anticipating pushback from the mining industry, the administration is denying that its rule will economically crush coal companies.

“This rule takes into account the extensive and substantive comments we received from state regulators, mining companies and local communities across the country,” said Janice Schneider, the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for land and minerals management “We traveled the country, visited many mines, and met with many of the people who work and live in coal country to make sure we wrote the best rule possible — one that is both economically achievable and protective.”

Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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