Murkowski: Stream Buffer Rule Bypasses State Regulators and Congress

Threatens the Future of Coal Mining in Alaska

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today expressed opposition to the Obama administration’s final rule on stream buffer zones for coal mining.

“The Obama administration has abused the rule-making process for eight years to subvert the law to meet their policy objectives,” Murkowski said. “The stream buffer rule issued today is yet another example of this administration’s unilateral efforts to bypass Congress and the states to impose rules that will have severe impacts on the economic well-being of our country - in this case by shutting down coal mining in several regions of the U.S., including Alaska.”

This rule has been promulgated under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, in which Congress explicitly directed the relevant federal agency to work with state governments. The president and his Interior Secretary, contrary to law, excluded the states from substantive engagement in the development of a more workable rule.

“This rule was written behind closed doors, ignores nearly all input from state regulators, and is specifically intended to put coal miners out of work,” Murkowski said. “I can assure Alaskans that Congress will work to overturn this rule, and we will urge the new administration to follow the law as it considers next steps.”

Murkowski is chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. As chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, Murkowski included report language in both the FY2016 and FY2017 Interior Appropriations bills demanding the administration share all of the documents and science allegedly supporting the stream buffer rule and directing the agency to work collaboratively with state coal regulators. The agency did not comply with either demand.

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