Gov. Tomblin: Feds kicking West Virginia, coal industry when they’re down


W.Va. Press Association



Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin called the proposed U.S. Office of Surface Mining rule a “personal foul’ and an example of the federal government kicking West Virginia while the state and the coal industry were down. Tomblin spoke first at Thursday’s public comment period.


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With the theater crowded with coal miners, families and others attending a public hearing on proposed Stream Protection Rule, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin spoke for state’s residents, calling the proposed rule a “personal foul’ and an example of the federal government kicking West Virginia while the state and the coal industry were down.

Tomblin urged rejection of U.S. Office of Surface Mining’s proposed Stream Protection Rule.

The OSM hosted the public hearing Thursday at the Charleston Civic Center to receive public comment on the proposed Stream Protection Rule.

With the crowd in the “Little Theater” at the Civic Center filling most seats, it was clear the majority of the audience – many wearing coal mining gear – were in support of the coal industry. Opponents and proponents of the proposed rule could speak for two minutes following Gov. Tomblin’s opening statement.

Earlier in the day, Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, issued a public comment on the rule. “This over-reaching rule is a job killer and big government at its worst. It will wipe out many of the remaining jobs that have survived the past seven years of this Administration’s war on coal. Those policies are devastating from an economic standpoint as they will sterilize valuable coal reserves and shut down operations that our families are depending on to survive.”

The Coal Association said the OSM’s proposed Stream Protection Rule is another in a long line of initiatives by the Obama Administration to put the coal industry out of business and, most particularly, the industry in West Virginia and the other Appalachian coal-producing states.

“In its current form this proposed scheme is completely misdirected from the original intent of the federal surface mining law passed in 1977 and completely re-writes that law without involving Congress or the States! These rules will make it nearly impossible to get a new permit or renew existing permits for underground and surface mining operations throughout the country,” Raney said, “What started out six years ago as a rule has swelled to a 2,000+ page diatribe amending 475 existing rules and adding new ones as well.”

“We appreciate the steadfast opposition to this rule by our congressional delegation, our governor and the political leadership in this state,” Raney said. “We implore them to keep fighting and to continue their efforts to persuade their counterparts in other states to do the same. This rule has to be stopped for the sake of our peoples’ jobs, their families, counties and their communities.”

Gov. Tomblin’s remarks, as provided by the Governor’s Office, are as follows:

• Good Evening.

• First … I would like to thank the U.S. Office of Surface Mining for providing this forum for comments … and I particularly appreciate that you are providing this opportunity in West Virginia.

• As I’m sure many of those here with us tonight know … West Virginia has borne the brunt of changes in several federal regulations … and unfortunately this rule is no different.

• In fact … it is one of the worst in a series of attacks on the coal industry … an employer that has provided the backbone of not only our state economy … but also supported tens of thousands of families across our state for generations … and helped our counties support schools … emergency responders … and countless other vital community services.

• Just a few miles from here you can see the faces of those already affected by overreaching federal regulations that ignore economic realities

• And attempt to enforce regulations that provide few … if any substantial benefits.

• I recognize that market forces have played a part in the decline of our coal industry …

• but I also know that market forces can be manipulated by federal policies …

• and that these regulations have made an already tough time much worse.

• Based on the way these rules have been introduced … it’s impossible to believe anything but this administration has made it a priority to kill our country’s coal industry …

• here in West Virginia …

• and several other states.

• From the Mercury rules … which were found to be inappropriate …

• and unbalanced action that damaged not only our economy but our electric reliability …

• and the so-called “Clean Power Plan” that represents an unprecedented federal encroachment on West Virginia and others …

• we have absorbed blow after blow from federal bureaucrats that ignore economic reality.

• The Stream Protection Rule we are here to discuss this evening is another prime example of that arrogance.

• Let me be clear … West Virginia and other coal-producing states tried to work with the Office of Surface Mining on regulations that provide a reasonable balance between the clean environment we all want …

• and the strong economy we all need.

• In 2010 … we started working with O-S-M to draft an environmental impact statement that would replace the 2008 stream buffer zone rule.

• Our Department of Environmental Protection spent countless hours … trying to help develop reasonable regulations …

• that would retain our state’s rightful role as the primary regulator for West Virginia’s waterways.

• We quickly found our trust … and our good-faith efforts … were misplaced and ignored by a federal agency that ignored our input

• and arrogantly inserted its judgment for that of not only West Virginia but states across the country.

• In 2011 … OSM stopped communicating with us.

• Following this lack of communication … West Virginia officially withdrew from the cooperative effort in May of this year.

• O-S-M made significant changes from earlier discussions … and released a 3,000-page draft that provides just 90 days for states to analyze and respond.

• Many aspects of this proposed rule are without legal support …

• infringe on the Clean Water Act authority and jurisdiction …

• create uncertainty in permitting for an industry already reeling because of earlier overreaching regulations …

• and would force West Virginia to hire more regulators at a time when federal actions already have created significant pressure on our state budget.

• This rule would have significant impacts on both surface and underground mines …

• and on the hardworking miners who support their families …

• and power our nation.

• In short … this rule would force us to spend more money regulating the coal industry …

• at a time when mining activity … and coal prices … are at their lowest levels in generations …

• and tax collections from the industry are dramatically lower.

• It’s the equivalent of a personal foul … hitting a man when he’s already down.

• Sadly … this lack of consideration for economic realities is not the exception … but the norm … for this administration.

• The Office of Surface Mining … proposes to unilaterally create an entirely new standard of no environmental impact from mining activities.

• A standard that applies to no other aspect of our lives …

• not for consumers …

• and not for companies.

• As governor of West Virginia … and on behalf of her people who want to continue supplying power to our nation …

• I urge you to reject this rule … and resume work with our state …

• and the many others …

• who are committed to protecting both our environment …

• AND our economy.

• Thank you.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin called the proposed U.S. Office of Surface Mining rule a “personal foul’ and an example of the federal government kicking West Virginia while the state and the coal industry were down. Tomblin spoke first at Thursday’s public comment period.
http://loganbanner.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/web1_Governor-Speaks-CMYK.jpgGov. Earl Ray Tomblin called the proposed U.S. Office of Surface Mining rule a “personal foul’ and an example of the federal government kicking West Virginia while the state and the coal industry were down. Tomblin spoke first at Thursday’s public comment period.

W.Va. Press Association

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