CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Coal Association issues the following statement regarding today’s release by the federal Office of Surface Mining of the revised Stream Buffer Zone Rule.

“The unrelenting assault on coal by the Obama Administration continued today, with the issuance by the federal Office of Surface Mining (OSM) of new revisions to the existing Stream Buffer Zone (SBZ) rule,” said Jason Bostic, vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association.  “The OSM claims this new rule provides ‘regulatory certainty.’ How can a 1200-page rule that blurs different statutes offer clarity or certainty?”

“And most egregious of all is the charade of a robust public comment process put forward by OSM in the crafting of this rule,” Bostic said. “The OSM performed a regulatory sleight of hand by requesting input from the states, then essentially slamming the door to that input while they moved to rewrite the law itself. In fact, nine out of ten states that were requested to provide input formally pulled out of the process as it moved forward without them.

“At its core, this appears to be an insidious attempt by OSM to blur the Surface Mining Act with the Clean Water Act to accomplish what EPA has previously failed to do – trample the responsibility of the states to develop their water quality standards.”

“It is also clear that the OSM’s estimate that ‘only’ 200 mining jobs would be lost due to the implementation of this plan has about as much validity a carnival sideshow palm reading. Several recent studies have shown the huge discrepancies between Obama Administration estimates of economic impact and the reality once these policies are implemented. “

“OSM arrogantly made the statement that the rule is ‘intended to protect the people of the coalfields.’ To that, we call on our congressional and state elected leaders to protect our coal miners from a runaway federal agency that is trying to replace a statute with a regulation developed in secret and wrapped in bureaucratic intrigue.”

Only five rooms remain in our name at The Greenbrier for WVCA’s Annual Meeting on August 68, 2015.  For those that have made their room reservations, but have not returned their event registration to WVCA, we ask that you return the Annual Meeting registration form, which has been emailed or can be obtained by contacting our office, to us as soon as possible so that we can insure good counts for each of our events.  In addition to the fun filled, family focused three days we will have informative programs and special recognitions for our 100th year, including special photographers being available for family photos.  We hope you will be able to join us and if you have questions, please call Sandi at the Association, 304-342-4153.   

·       Royce Watts, WVU Search Committee Chair, announced that Dr. John Herbst has accepted the position of WVU Mining Engineering Department Chair with expected employment date of August 2015.

·       Command change at the Huntington District Corps of Engineers was held today, July 10, with Colonel Leon F. Parrott relinquishing command to Colonel Philip M. Secrist, III.

·       Babst Calland will be holding “Business After Hours” on Thursday, July 23 at their new location at BB&T Square, 300 Summers Street, Suite 1000, in Charleston.

West Virginia’s Board of Coal Mine Health & Safety has promulgated a new mine safety rule designed to enhance safety while miners are working around or near surface impoundments.  The rule which takes effect next month, on August 17th, requires all dumping areas or fills to be constructed and maintained in a manner to ensure safe operation and stability and all individuals working in proximity to dumping or fill areas to be trained in the procedures and potential hazards existing in such areas.  Additionally, the rule contains provisions for life jackets, ring buoys and a skiff to be on site when individuals are working near or over water.  A copy of the rule is available through the Association office.

On Tuesday, July 7th, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey joined several state organizations to host a town hall meeting in Putnam County to discuss the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency’s new rule regulating local waterways and his Office’s legal challenge to it.  In addition to Attorney General Morrisey, several local business leaders and representatives from the West Virginia Coal Association and West Virginia Business & Industry Council (Jason Bostic), Associated Builders and Contractors of West Virginia, Contractors Association of West Virginia (Mike Clowser), West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, West Virginia Farm Bureau (Charles Wilfong) and West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association (Corky DeMarco) discussed the potential effects this rule could have on local landowners.

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