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POLITICS: PennAve

House subpoenas Interior Department IG over proposed coal regulations

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Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio,PennAve,Coal,Government Regulation

The top Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee Tuesday issued a subpoena to the Interior Department’s inspector general, demanding a readable copy of a critical report on coal-mining reform.

Committee Chairman Rep. Doc Hastings, of Washington state, said the panel has been unable to get an un-redacted copy of the report despite multiple requests. He believes the inspector general, who is required to be independent, is improperly withholding the report at the request of Interior Department officials.

“It’s completely unacceptable and inappropriate for the IG to be taking orders from the Department, especially about what information to withhold from Congress,” Hastings said.

The department is currently rewriting the rules governing how coal companies can perform mountaintop removal mining.

The new rules are aimed at protecting streams and Appalachian communities from the damaging effects of this particular mining process, but Republicans believe the process is flawed and could make it much harder to produce coal, resulting in higher energy prices and lost jobs.

Hastings said he believes the inspector general has found problems in the rule-making process and they are included in the report, but blacked out in the copy given to Congress.

“If the IG discovered on-going issues with the way the Department is currently conducting this rule making process, they have a responsibility and duty to share that information with Congress now,” Hastings said.

Hastings issued the subpoena as the House debated a bill that would stop the Obama administration from implementing new regulations on coal plants. The bill, “Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America Act,” aims to stop “reckless and unnecessary” rewriting of the nation's coal regulations, which sponsors said would eliminate 7,000 jobs and cause economic harm in 22 states.

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Susan Ferrechio

Chief Congressional Correspondent
The Washington Examiner