President Trump recently gave his first address to a joint session of Congress. During his speech, he specifically mentioned how the coal industry would benefit from his promise to remove many types of regulations. Trump has even proposed a new rule that would require two old regulations to be eliminated for every one new regulation passed. This proposed reduction in regulations come at a time when many individuals argue that Environmental Protection Agency regulations are the coal industry’s biggest threat.
The Most Recent Coal Mining Regulations
Some of the most recent coal mining regulations came in December of 2016 when the Obama administration passed several that were intended to protect America’s streams and waterways from pollution produced during mining operations. Among the regulations that the Trump administration is expected to remove are these most recent regulations and other laws including the Clean Power Plan, the Steam Protection Rule, and the Clean Waters Rule. These regulations created additional financial obstacles for coal mining companies. The Interior Department estimates that it will cost $871 million to comply with these various regulations.
The Clean Power Plan
This policy is designed to combat global warming by establishing a national limit on carbon dioxide pollution produced from power plants. The Clean Power Plan has disproportionately affected states in which coal is the major generator of electricity, and has the potential to have a particularly crippling effect on states like West Virginia.
Steam Protection Rule
Mining companies in West Virginia frequently access underground coal seams by exploding the tops of mountains through mountaintop removal mining. Once this process is finished, West Virginia companies often dispose of debris which can contaminate stream sources. Passed in December of 2016, the Stream Protection Rule placed several restrictions on coal mining companies that desire to obtain permits to expand old mines or begin new mines. Under this rule, coal mining companies were required to perform a baseline assessment of surrounding ecosystems before commencing with mining operations. After signing a Congressional Review Act, the new president effectively ended the Stream Protection Rule.
Clean Waters Rule
Passed in 2015, the Clean Waters Rule stated a new and more detailed mention of what body of waters in the United States must be protected. This Rule is part of the Clean Water Act, which is an body of federal law designed to limit water pollution in the United States. This act has the potential to severely impact the coal mining industry and is likely to be one of the rules that will be removed by the new administration.
Contact an Experienced West Virginia Coal Industry Defense Attorney
In addition to a large number of regulations, the coal industry has been harmed by other trends including competition from other firms and the rise of fracking and natural gas industries. Since 2011, employment numbers in the coal industry have decreased nationwide.
For individuals in West Virginia who face opposition due to regulations enforced on the coal mining industry, it is a wise idea to retain the services of talented legal representation like the law firm of Hendrickson and Long.