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Trump signs legislation rolling back Obama-era coal mining regulation

February.20 Coal

US President Donald Trump signedlegislation [HJR 38, PDF] on Thursday, rolling back the Stream Protection Rule [text, PDF], or SPR, enacted during Barack Obama's term in December. In a press release [text] from the Office of the Press Secretary, the White House administration said the SPR was an "overly burdensome regulation" that harmed "coal workers and the communities that depend on them." The move is part of the administration's promise to "end the war on coal," according to the statement. The bill passed the House in a 228-194 vote [materials] earlier this month, and passed the Senate a day later in a 54-45 vote [materials]. According to the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement [materials], the SPR was enacted to "better protect water supplies, surface water and groundwater quality, streams, fish, wildlife, and related environmental values from the adverse impacts of surface coal mining operations and provide mine operators with a regulatory framework to avoid water pollution and the long-term costs associated with water treatment."

The new regulation was promulgated by the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE). The OSMRE stated [press release] that the SPR was enacted to "improve the balance between environmental protection and providing for the Nation's need for coal as a source of energy." Two days after the regulation was announced, Murray Energy Corporation filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] in an attempt to block the rule[JURIST report]. The company claimed that not only did the OSMRE not have the authority to enact such a rule under the Surface Mining Control and Regulation Act [text, PDF], but that the rule would also cripple the coal industry and communities relying on it.

Source from JURIST