Attorney General Applauds Repeal of Restrictive Mining Rules
February 16, 2017 (Anchorage, AK) – Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth applauds Congress for passing a resolution that disapproved of the Stream Protection Rule, recently issued by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE). She and Commissioner Andy Mack, Department of Natural Resources are pleased that President Trump signed the resolution today.
“I thank Alaska’s Congressional delegation for their unwavering commitment to this important issue,” said Attorney General Lindemuth. “Repealing this restrictive rule allows Alaska’s existing coal mining regulatory program, which already includes protections for streams and other environmental resources, to remain in place.”
“We will continue our efforts to protect Alaska’s streams and other critical resources as we pursue responsible resource development activities in Alaska,” said Natural Resources Commissioner Andy Mack.
Alaska had already joined 12 other states in challenging the Stream Protection Rule in the federal District Court for the District of Columbia, based on both the process by which the rule was developed as well as its content. A significant concern was that the rule did not adequately take into account Alaska’s unique geography and environment. At the same time, Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth and several other attorneys general sent a letter to Congress urging it to consider using the Congressional Review Act to remedy this problematic rulemaking.
Under the Federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) states may obtain primacy jurisdiction over regulation of coal mining activities. Alaska obtained primacy in the 1980s with implementation of the Alaska Surface Coal Mining Control and Reclamation Act (ASCMCRA). The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has implemented this act to ensure that Alaska streams and natural resources are protected from the adverse impacts of mining while allowing for a healthy coal mining industry.
DNR joined representatives from 12 other states in reaching out early to OSMRE to make reasonable changes to the federal laws, but OSMRE chose a path that excluded state input, leading to the resolution signed today by the President.