New Coal Industry Rules Adopted by DOI

Jan 5, 2017

The Obama administration adopts stricter “cleanup” rules for mining.

Darryl Fears, in an article in The Washington Post, reports that the Obama Administration, in conjunction with the U.S Department of the Interior, has been working for seven years “to draft and finalize” rules that will require mining companies “to restore…land to the same condition that existed before digging began.”

These regulations were published in the Federal Register in early December and are now the law unless the incoming Trump Administration overturns them.

The new rule “which overhauls regulations in place for more than three decades,” is designed to protect waterways adversely affected by run-off from mining operations. According to the Interior Department, it “’worked closely with many stakeholders to craft a plan that protects water quality, supports economic opportunities, safeguards our environment and makes coalfield communities more resilient.’”

Environmentalists applaud the new rule; coal mining companies are aghast. They argue, with good reason, that the new regulations will make it even more difficult for them to overcome existing “debt, job losses and declining profits.”

Mr. Fears notes that two of the nation’s top four coal companies are in bankruptcy and Peabody Energy,” the world’s largest publicly traded coal company,” is struggling to pay its creditors.

Critics of the new DOI rule argue that if coal companies default on their financial obligations taxpayers will have to pay for the hundreds of millions of dollars of reclamation projects the coal companies are currently responsible for. The new rule may have the unintended consequence of making land restoration less likely, rather than more so.


Interior adopts controversial last-minute rule to make the coal industry cleaner, Darryl Fears, Darryl Fears, The Washington Post, Dec. 19, 2016.