Coal Bill Update

We’ve seen some bills race before, but SB 626 is moving so fast it’s hard to see! This bill, which relates “generally to coal mining” originated on Monday, Feb. 19 in the Senate Energy, Industry and Mining committee, was sent straight to the floor and was on third reading by Thursday. The bill deals with surface mining applications.

We have major issues with this bill, like the fact that it eliminates newspapers as a required avenue for public notification of permit applications, allowing for e-notification in a state with weak broadband infrastructure and an aging population. It also deletes an entire section of the Water Pollution Control Act.

But, aside from the issues themselves, the fact that this bill has moved so rapidly through the process doesn’t allow time for anyone, but insiders, to analyze the bill, or to push for amendments. We were able to get Senator Randy Smith (R- Tucker) to agree to restore the newspaper notifications, however, and he announced from the floor Thursday before passage that the change would be made in House Energy where the bill heads now.

Still, it will be interesting to see what we can learn about this bill before that committee meeting which we expect to be Tuesday. Read more about this story here.

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