Late Friday afternoon, the House Judiciary committee passed a DEP rules bundle which included a version of the Surface Mine Rule that had been amended in the Senate the week before. The proposed rule () had gone through the rule making process, including the public period and was referenced in the Senate to the Energy, Industry, and Mining committee and the committee on Judiciary.
A fast and slickwas introduced in Senate EIM, which struck language related to “water quality standards” from a segment of the rule which deals with early bond release. This could mean that coal operators may be allowed to recoup over half of the money put up for bond before completing reclamation on their site. If the state allows early release and the water at the site doesn’t meet water quality standards, it could leave the state vulnerable for the cost of completing the clean-up.
Senator Mike Romano (D- Harrison) made an amendment in Senate Judiciary that strengthened the amended version that left Energy, Industry, and Mining. And, today, Delegates Barbara Fleischauer (D- 51) and Mike Pushkin (D- 37) offered an amendment in House Judiciary that would have added greater protection, but the amendment was voted down along party lines.
As we consider how to make this rule stronger on the floor, take a minute to emailto thank him for strengthening the rule. And, we can thank and for their valiant attempts in House Judiciary!