Radio Actuality

Secretary Salazar Moves to Withdraw Mountaintop Coal Mining Rule


Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar held a press conference today to announce his determination that the mountaintop coal mining “stream buffer zone rule” issued by the Bush Administration is legally defective.  Salazar directed the United States Department of Justice to file a pleading with the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. requesting that the rule be vacated due to this deficiency and remanded the to the Department of the Interior for further action.  Related News Release.

Topic / Summary / Transcript
Topic: Secretary Salazar says that the Bush Administration ruling does not pass the “smell test.”
“It is important that we ensure the SMCRA requirements are coordinated with Clean Water Act obligations that are administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency.  As I said earlier, coal must and will remain an important component of our nation’s energy portfolio.  But the 11th hour rule, which was issued a little over a month before the previous administration left office, simply does not adequately protect our waterways and our communities.  It simply does not pass the smell test.”

Topic: Secretary Salazar says that withdrawing the ruling will not have an affect on coal mining since the industry is still under a 1983 SMCRA ruling.
“For those who will scream about the reversal of the Bush era rule on mountaintop mining, the fact of the matter is that the 1983 rule is still what is being implemented in 49 of the 50 states.  It’s a delegated program so it’s the states that are the ones that are responsible for issuing the permits for coal mining, so long as they’re in compliance with SMCRA and with the rules that are issued by OSM.  As of this point 49 states are operating under the 1983 Reagan era rule.  The only exception to that is the state of Tennessee.  So there will not be, in my view, impact on existing coal mining operations or permits that have already been issued under the 1983 rule.”   

Topic: Secretary Salazar says that future impact on the coal mining industry and America’s energy supply will come from the need to reduce carbon emissions.
“I think the larger issue really that should be presented to coal industry as a whole and to our nation is how we can move forward as fast as we can to develop clean coal technologies and have them deployed at the commercial scale.  That ultimately is what is the greatest threat to the coal industry in this country, that unless we’re able to figure out a way of moving forward with these clean coal advanced technologies, you are going to have an industry that is going to be very weakened as the world community, not only the United States but the world community, attempts to get a handle on the carbon emissions which we have to deal with.”