West Virginia Joins Five Other States in Bailing on Interior Department Mine Regulation Agreement


After watching federal officials with the U.S. Department of the Interior unilaterally rewrite regulatory rules without state input in what was supposed to be a joint venture, West Virginia has joined with five other states to withdraw from a cooperative agreement they say the Interior Department has violated.

In 2010, the Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement entered into a memorandum of understanding with nine states under the National Environmental Policy Act.

The idea was for state agencies to work with the Interior Department’s surface mining office in the development of environmental impact statements as they relate to a new rule regarding surface coal mining. The participating states signed the memoranda as the Interior Department began to rewrite the Stream Buffer Zone Rule as a replacement for an older rule that dates back to 2008.

But instead of drawing on state expertise and welcoming state input to help craft an environmental impact statement in step with National Environmental Policy Act requirements, the Interior Department declined to provide its state counterparts with critical pieces of information and restricted the opportunity for comment and review.

That’s what state officials told the House Natural Resources Committee at a May 20 hearing on ‚ÄúState …read more