February 02, 2017
One year ago, West Virginia sought divine intervention for an Appalachia coal industry left reeling from downward market forces and heavy federal regulation. Republicans just started answering.
On Wednesday, the House deployed the Congressional Review Act to strike down one of the Obama-era’s most controversial regulations, the Stream Protection Rule.
Just before exiting the Oval Office, then-President Barack Obama put the finishing touches on his regulatory legacy by ordering the Dept. of Interior to finalize the rule. On paper, it’s designed to prevent the pollution of waterways near coal mines. In practice, it adds a regulatory burden that the industry insists it can’t shoulder.
It can best be understood as a tripwire left for the GOP. Create a rule you know will be repealed so the GOP gets the bad press of rolling back a coal-in-waterways rule.
The bill’s author, West Virginia Rep. Evan Jenkins, described the legislation as the first step toward repealing “the final component of the last president’s war on coal.” It passed by 228-194 and now heads to the Senate.
President Trump has already promised to end his predecessor’s campaign against coal. When he put on a coal miner’s helmet on the campaign trail in West Virginia, he was anointed by the industry. If the bill reaches his desk now, he’ll become the savior of the much-maligned hydrocarbon.