|6:48 PM EST||
Bill Johnson, R-OH 6th
Mr. JOHNSON of Ohio. Mr. Chairman, my amendment would stop the Department of the Interior's Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation and Enforcement from going forward with a proposed revision to the stream buffer rule that could, according to the Obama administration's own analysis, eliminate up to 29,000 coal industry and industry-related jobs, cut coal mining production by 50 percent, and increase the cost of electricity for families and businesses.
In December 2008, OSM issued a clarification of the stream buffer zone rules after a 5-year process that included 40,000 public comments, two proposed rules, and 5,000 pages of environmental analysis from five different agencies.
The final rule clarified and codified coal surface mining practices that had been in effect for over 30 years, but an entry in the Federal Registry from June 2009 shows that early in the first days of the Obama administration, the decision was made to reopen the carefully crafted and properly vetted stream buffer zone rule. The proposed sweeping regulatory action would radically alter the definition of a stream as well as how the agency measures material damage outside of the permit area. To
date, the agency has provided no studies, no data or support to justify these radical changes.
Given the complete lack of justification, analysis, or rationale for these proposed changes, it can be said that this is a political decision and not one based on science or fact, and this flies in the face of the administration's pledge to base rulemaking decisions on science and not on political factors.
Furthermore, several States have expressed serious concerns about the need and justification for the proposal. Mr. Chairman, the unemployment rate in my home State of Ohio is 9.6 percent. In parts of eastern and southeastern Ohio that I represent, we have double-digit unemployment. The average unemployment in the 12 counties I represent is 10.9 percent. There are entire communities that depend largely on the coal industry, both for direct and indirect jobs, and these jobs would be threatened
by this proposed rules change.
To be clear, my amendment does not stop the issuance of permits nor does it prevent OSM, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the EPA from their regulatory responsibilities. My amendment would simply prohibit any funding to be spent on developing, carrying out, or implementing this ill-conceived proposed job-killing rule.
I strongly urge my colleagues to support my amendment to stop the Obama administration from going forward with a regulation that will result in thousands of hardworking Americans losing their jobs.
I reserve the balance of my time.