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112th Congress Report
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
2d Session 112-670
COAL MINER EMPLOYMENT AND DOMESTIC ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION ACT
September 13, 2012.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on
the State of the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. Hastings of Washington, from the Committee on Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 3409]
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]
The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred
the bill (H.R. 3409) to limit the authority of the Secretary of
the Interior to issue regulations before December 31, 2013,
under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977,
having considered the same, report favorably thereon without
amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.
PURPOSE OF THE BILL
The purpose of H.R. 3409 is to limit the authority of the
Secretary of the Interior to issue regulations before December
31, 2013, under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act
BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION
The Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy
Infrastructure Protection Act (H.R. 3409) limits the authority
of the Secretary of the Interior to issue regulations under the
Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 until
December 31, 2013. The bill allows additional time for the
Office of Surface Mining (OSM) to meet the requirements of the
National Environmental Policy Act and generate a legally
defensible ``Stream Buffer zone'' regulation. It also addresses
the concerns raised by the cooperating agencies, coal mining
States, citizens and industry raised in the April 2011 Energy
and Mineral Resources Subcommittee oversight hearing for the
OSM Fiscal Year 2012 budget, and subsequent oversight hearings
on the Obama Administration's re-write of the Stream Buffer
In January 2011, documents prepared by independent
contractor, Polu Kai Services, LLC (PKS) to support the Obama
Administration's Stream Buffer Zone rule making, were leaked to
the press. The press reported that the preferred alternative in
the re-written rule would result in the loss of over 7,000 jobs
and place an additional 29,000 people below the poverty level
in the Appalachian basin. In addition, coal production would
decrease or stay flat in 22 states.
Shortly after these figures became public, the
Administration backed away from these job loss estimates and
began to publicly criticize PKS, who had been hired by OSM to
prepare the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the
regulation under the National Environmental Policy Act.
Eventually OSM and PKS came to a mutual agreement to terminate
the contract. While OSM blames the contractor for problems with
the EIS, the contractor has raised concerns with OSM's
management of the process, in particular the numerous changes
to the scope of the rule the EIS was to support.
On November 4, 2011, the Energy and Mineral Resources
Subcommittee held an oversight hearing titled ``Jobs at Risk:
Waste and Mismanagement by the Obama Administration in
Rewriting the Stream Buffer Zone Rule.'' During the hearing,
OSM Director Joseph Pizarchik stated to Congressman Doug
Lamborn (R-CO) regarding job loss numbers that ``the numbers
which you refer to were numbers that the contractor put
together. Those numbers were fabricated based on placeholder
numbers and have no basis in fact.'' Further, he agreed with
Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) that the ``contractor, PKS, was
incomplete and inaccurate.''
On March 5, 2012, ENVIRON International Corporation
released a summary of the results of a preliminary analysis of
the anticipated economic impacts of OSM's proposed rule.
ENVIRON's findings support the job loss estimates that were
leaked to the press in January 2011. Despite the problems that
Director Pizarchik prescribes to the contractors, it does not
change that OSM committed, through a legal settlement, to a
compressed schedule for what has evolved into a comprehensive
re-write of regulations governing coal mining in the United
After the release of the ENVIRON report, the Committee held
a hearing on July 19, 2012 during which Director Pizarchik
backtracked from his previous allegation that the reported
numbers were simply placeholders. After discussing documents
that show the job loss numbers would be devastating to the
American people, Director Pizarchik was asked whether he
continued ``to assert that those were `placeholders'.''
Director Pizarchik responded that, ``At the time I made that
statement, the information I had that those were placeholders
numbers, and as I understood placeholders, that they did not
have any basis in fact . . . But I have since learned that
their definition of placeholder was different than was my
As a result, this Administration knows that their preferred
regulations would cause thousands of Americans to lose their
jobs, and would cause economic harm in at least 22 states and
widespread economic displacement to tens of thousands of more
Americans. However, according to the OSM Director on July 19th,
they still are ``making our best efforts to get it completed as
soon as possible.''
H.R. 3409 limits the authority of the Secretary of the
Interior to issue regulations under the Surface Mining Control
and Reclamation Act of 1977 before December 31, 2013, that
would: (1) adversely impact employment in coal mines in the
United States; (2) cause a reduction in revenue received by the
federal government or any State, tribal, or local government,
by reducing through regulation the amount of coal in the United
States that is available for mining; (3) reduce the amount of
coal available for domestic consumption or for export; (4)
designate any area as unsuitable for surface coal mining and
reclamation operations; or (5) expose the United States to
liability for taking the value of privately owned coal through
regulation. OSM is not responsible for mine safety regulations.
H.R. 3409 was introduced on November 14, 2011, by
Congressman Bill Johnson (R-OH). The bill was referred to the
Committee on Natural Resources, and within the Committee to the
Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. On November 18,
2011, the Subcommittee held a hearing on a draft version of the
bill. On February 29, 2012, the Full Natural Resources
Committee met to consider the bill. The Subcommittee on Energy
and Mineral Resources was discharged by unanimous consent.
Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) offered amendment designated .001
to the bill; the amendment was not adopted by a bipartisan roll
call vote of 18 to 26, as follows:
The bill was then adopted and ordered favorably reported to
the House of Representatives by a bipartisan roll call vote of
26 to 18, as follows:
COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the
Committee on Natural Resources' oversight findings and
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.
COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XIII
1. Cost of Legislation. Clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the
Rules of the House of Representatives requires an estimate and
a comparison by the Committee of the costs which would be
incurred in carrying out this bill. However, clause 3(d)(2)(B)
of that rule provides that this requirement does not apply when
the Committee has included in its report a timely submitted
cost estimate of the bill prepared by the Director of the
Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the
Congressional Budget Act of 1974. Under clause 3(c)(3) of rule
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section
403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has
received the following cost estimate for this bill from the
Director of the Congressional Budget Office:
H.R. 3409--Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy Infrastructure
H.R. 3409 would temporarily prohibit the Secretary of the
Interior from issuing new regulations that would have certain
impacts on the coal industry. Based on information provided by
the Office of Surface Mining (OSM), CBO estimates that
implementing the legislation would have no significant impact
on the federal budget. Enacting the bill would not affect
direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go
procedures do not apply.
Under the bill, the Secretary could not issue new
regulations until the end of 2013 if those regulations would
affect the coal industry in certain ways, such as reducing
employment or limiting access to coal resources. CBO expects
that the bill would probably not affect any proposed
regulations currently in the rulemaking process. In addition,
based on information provided by OSM, CBO expects that any
regulations proposed in the future would not be issued before
the end of 2013 and would not be affected by the enactment of
the bill. Therefore, we estimate that implementing H.R. 3409
would have at most a minimal impact on the federal budget.
H.R. 3409 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Jeff LaFave. The
estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant
Director for Budget Analysis.
2. Section 308(a) of Congressional Budget Act. As required
by clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of
Representatives and section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget
Act of 1974, this bill does not contain any new budget
authority, spending authority, credit authority, or an increase
or decrease in revenues or tax expenditures. Based on
information provided by the Office of Surface Mining, CBO
estimates that implementing the legislation would have no
significant impact on the federal budget.
3. General Performance Goals and Objectives. As required by
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goal or
objective of this bill is to limit the authority of the
Secretary of the Interior to issue regulations before December
31, 2013, under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act
This bill does not contain any Congressional earmarks,
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined
under clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of rule XXI of the Rules of
the House of Representatives.
COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4
This bill contains no unfunded mandates as defined under
Public Law 104-4.
PREEMPTION OF STATE, LOCAL OR TRIBAL LAW
This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or
CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW
If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing
DISSENTING VIEWS--H.R. 3409: COAL MINER EMPLOYMENT AND DOMESTIC ENERGY
INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION ACT
We oppose H.R. 3409 because it is so broadly drafted that
it could have the effect of preventing the Interior Department
from issuing almost any rulemaking dealing with coal mining,
including regulations that are necessary to ensure states can
properly carry out their programs, regulations that would
ensure that mining operations are safe and that public health
and American taxpayers are protected, and even regulations
beneficial to the mining industry.
The intent of H.R. 3409 appears to be to prevent the
Interior Department from revising a Bush Administration
midnight regulation that significantly weakened protections on
the destructive practice of Mountaintop Removal Mining.
Mountaintop Removal Mining is one the most environmentally
destructive practices on earth, which has fouled water quality
and destroyed nearly 2,000 miles of Appalachian streams since
1992. However, H.R. 3409 is drafted so that its impact would be
much broader than just this one rulemaking. H.R. 3409 would
prevent the Secretary of the Interior from issuing any
regulation under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act
(SMCRA) through December 31, 2013, if the regulation would,
among other things, prohibit coal mining in any area, reduce
employment in coal mines, or reduce coal production.
Prohibiting any rulemaking based upon the criteria in H.R.
3409 would be inconsistent with the purposes of SMCRA as
outlined in section 102(f) to ``strike a balance between
protection of the environment and agricultural productivity and
the nation's need for coal as an essential source of energy.''
In fact, this legislation could have far-reaching and
significant unintended consequences for the regulation of
mining activities in the United States.
According to the Interior Department, this legislation
could prevent the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) from approving
state program amendments to improve mine-reclamation bonding
programs, which could adversely affect the ability of states to
ensure that the necessary funds are available to reclaim mine
sites. It could prevent OSM from revising regulations governing
temporary cessation of operations to ensure that mining
operations are temporarily shut down in a way that protects the
environment. It could prohibit OSM from developing guidelines
and requirements for the use of Coal Combustion Residues for
reclamation activities on active and abandoned coal mine sites.
According to data from the state of Pennsylvania, disposing of
coal ash in a landfill costs industry five times as much as
beneficially using it at a mine. So this legislation could
actually lead to increased costs for the mining industry if it
were to be enacted.
The Majority rejected an amendment from Energy and Minerals
Ranking Member Holt that would have simply ensured that the
Secretary can continue to issue regulations that are
``necessary to protect public health or safety or to ensure a
proper return to American taxpayers.'' Mr. Holt's amendment
would have ensured that we don't completely tie the hands of
the Interior Department when it comes to regulating coal mining
in the United States and protecting safety and public health,
as the underlying bill would do.
We oppose H.R. 3409 because not only would it prevent
regulation to protect the economy and the environment of the
Appalachia region from destructive Mountaintop Removal Mining
practices but it would also make mining less safe and threaten
public health. We should allow the Interior Department to
continue to do its job and ensure that our mining operations
are safe and that we protect our workers, public health and
Edward J. Markey, Ranking Member,
Committee on Natural Resources.
Raul M. Grijalva.
Grace F. Napolitano.
Madeleine Z. Bordallo.
Ben Ray Lujan.
Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan.
Dale E. Kildee.
Rush D. Holt.