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CHARLESTON – The Association today sent a request for an extension of the comment periods for OSM’s proposed Stream Buffer Zone Rule. Following is the letter.

September 5, 2015

The Honorable Sally Jewell, Secretary

United States Department of the Interior

1849 C Street, N.W.

Washington, DC   20240

Dear Secretary Jewell,

On behalf of the members of the West Virginia Coal Association who are responsible for approximately ninety-five percent of West Virginia’s annual coal production and approximately 65,000 direct and indirect jobs in the State, we request a 120-day extension of the comment period on the proposed rule published by your Office of Surface Mining (OSM) on July 27, 2015 at 80 Fed. Reg. 44436, regarding stream buffer zones.

 

Comments on the proposed rule are due by September 25, 2015, which is not nearly enough time to review and prepare appropriate comments on the more than 1,200 pages of the pre-published proposed rule that your agency, OSM, has taken more than five years to write.   In addition, we, the public, are expected to also have comments prepared, at the same deadline, on the more than 2,000 pages your agency published in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and the Draft Regulatory Impact Analysis (DRIA).   Not only is meeting such an artificial two-month deadline practically impossible, it is patently unfair, particularly since your agency took more than sixty months to write these over-reaching regulations.  

This proposed rule will have a tremendously negative and debilitating impact on America’s coal industry, while directly threatening the very existence and continuation of coal mining in Appalachia.   If the very substance of this proposed rule is not bad enough, the OSM promulgation process was further tainted by the fact that several states, including West Virginia, withdrew from their roles as cooperating parties three months ago due to your agency’s failure to live up to the previously signed memorandum of understanding. For all of these reasons, we hope you will require your agency, OSM, to extend the comment periods so that we and other members of the public are better able to review the documents and provide appropriate responses.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

                                               

Sincerely,

William B. Raney, President


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