House Republicans on Tuesday approved a bill that would prevent the Obama administration from imposing a stream-protection rule for coal mining that government experts say would eliminate thousands of jobs.
The administration rule is intended to replace Bushera regulations that set up buffer zones around waterways and were aimed chiefly at mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia. The House bill would reinstate the 2008 rule, which was thrown out earlier this year by a federal court.
The House approved the measure, 229-192. Ten Democrats joined 219 Republicans in favor of the bill.
The White House has threatened to veto the bill, saying it limits states’ ability to tailor safeguards to their own needs and wastes millions of dollars adopting a rule that has been vacated by a federal court.
The House bill mirrors a measure approved in 2012 and is unlikely to be taken up in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Even so, debate on the bill was vigorous. Republicans complained that a rule proposed by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is part of what they call President Barack Obama’s “war on coal.” Lawmakers cited a draft report by the agency indicating that the proposed rule would cost an estimated 7,000 jobs while slashing production across the country.
The rule is intended protect streams from adverse effects of surface mining in states such as West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, but it would affect coal mines nationwide.
“President Obama talks a big game about being for all-of-the-above” energy sources, said the bill’s author, Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio. “But at every turn, he tries to shut down fossil fuels” such as coal.