The coal industry is heading for a big showdown vote in Congress. At issue is repealing the so-called Stream-Buffer rule, that prevents any surface mining within 100 feet of a waterway. Environmentalists say it’s crucial to keeping drinking water safe.
“I have been to Prenter Holler, where their water was ruined by pollutants from the mines. And they ultimately had to go on West Virginia American Water,” said Karan Ireland, West Virginia SUN (Solar United Neighborhoods).
But supporters of the coal industry call the bill unfair. They fear the mining restrictions would force more layoffs.
“What this would do is basically eliminate one-third of all of the coal jobs, the coal mining jobs, employment related to coal in the entire country,” said Rep. Evan Jenkins, (R) West Virginia.
The Senate and House could vote over the next couple of says in Washington, and send the repeal to President Trump by Friday. It’s become highly politicized.
“This is a rule that Obama put into effect, literally the day before Trump took office,” said Congressman Jenkins.
“I don’t ever think that we should have to choose between jobs and public health,” said said Karan Ireland of WV SUN.
A new executive order could be issued by week’s end.
“This is another indication that the coal industry will be a higher priority for the Trump administration and the new Congress, but whether it has a payoff for the Appalachian States remains to be seen,” said Mark Curtis, 59 News Chief Political Reporter.