Congress Overturns Costly Stream Rule

This week, the House and Senate passed resolutions to cancel the Obama Administration’s last-minute “Stream Rule.” President Trump is expected to sign the measure in the coming days.

Noting that America’s coal industry has shed 68,000 jobs in recent years, it’s a good thing Congress acted to halt the stream rule. The regulation was written so broadly as to potentially render half of all U.S coal reserves off-limits to mining.

And it’s estimated that duplicative measures within the rule would have cost another 42,000 coal jobs—a significant hit to an economy skipping perilously close to recession right now.

It’s not just coal workers who can breathe a sigh of relief that the regulation has been overturned, however. A number of states depend heavily on coal-fired power, and they benefit significantly from the affordable electricity it provides.

Because coal has proven to be a durable, reliable source of power for decades, utility companies in these states have already spent billions of dollars on highly advanced equipment to scrub emissions of sulfur, mercury, and particulate matter. Canceling the stream rule will help to ensure that all of this investment wasn’t wasted.

You wouldn’t know that coal has gone high-tech, though—thanks to a prolonged campaign of disinformation from climate activists fretting about “carbon pollution.” But America’s coal industry is far leaner and cleaner today than 30 years ago.

And coal still provides roughly one-third of all U.S. power generation—anchoring a diverse energy supply that saves consumers roughly $90 billion in annual costs, according to IHS Energy Consulting.

It’s noteworthy that mining states have a vested interest in seeing their natural resources are protected. And as the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation (OSM) has noted in its annual reports, coal-mining states are already ensuring that mine sites are being reclaimed with virtually no off-site impacts.

The stream rule would have ended thousands of much-needed middle-class jobs, though, and for no real tangible benefit. It’s helpful, then, that in such a tight economy, Congress voted to give the coal industry a fighting chance.