Capito Supports Bill to Protect Energy Jobs, Halt Government Overreach

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) today co-sponsored legislation by that would inject transparency and stop overreach in the federal rulemaking process related to mining.

The bipartisan Supporting Transparent Regulatory and Environmental Actions in Mining Act of 2015 (STREAM Act) introduced by Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.), and co-sponsored by Senators Capito and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), would ensure that any rule issued by U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) is based on sound, open data and would not needlessly increase regulatory burdens or eliminate thousands of jobs.

“America needs a commonsense energy policy that utilizes our vast natural resources to provide affordable and reliable energy. We simply cannot allow another far-reaching regulation to devastate West Virginia families and jobs,” said Senator Capito. “This bill would take aim at DOI’s forthcoming stream buffer zone rule, which threatens mining operations in Appalachia, and bring more transparency to the regulatory structure.”


The Supporting Transparent Regulatory and Environmental Actions in Mining Act of 2015 (STREAM Act) would require the Secretary of the Interior to make publically available all scientific products and data relied on used to draft the new Stream Buffer Zone rule, or face delay and eventual withdrawal of the rule. The bill also prohibits the Interior Secretary from issuing a rule or determinations that needlessly duplicate or overlap with current environmental laws, such as the Clean Water Act, under the jurisdiction of other agencies.


The 1983 stream buffer zone rule prohibited mining within 100 feet of a stream, unless the activity “would not adversely affect the water quantity or quality.” The rule was updated in 2008 after a five-year process that included 40,000 public comments, two proposed rules and 5,000 pages of environmental analysis from five agencies. However, last year the Obama Administration finally succeeded in vacating the 2008 rule even though the administration has not provided any evidence or data to justify a change to the rule.

Now, the DOI, through the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), is writing an over reaching rule based on undisclosed data without proper state consultation. Coats’ legislation would rein in this secretive process and ensure OSMRE does not overstep its jurisdiction.

Additional Information:

The expected Stream Protection Rule would: 

  • Effectively eliminate between 30.4 percent and 41.5 percent of recoverable resources from both surface and underground mines;
  • Place between 133,441 and 273,227 mining-related jobs at risk, with the Appalachia region facing the greatest losses;
  • Decrease the annual production value of coal between $14 billion and $20 billion; and
  • Eliminate between $4 billion and $5 billion in annual tax revenue to the Federal and State government. States and Tribes would also lose substantial coal lease revenues from production royalties and lease bonus bids.

The rule was recently submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for review and is expected to be released in the near future.