"OSM's preferred alternative will destroy tens of thousands of coal-related jobs across the country from Appalachia to Alaska and Illinois to Texas with no demonstrated benefit to the environment," the trade group said in a statement. "OSM's own analysis provides a very conservative estimate of jobs that will be eliminated, incomes that will be lost and state revenues that will be foregone at both surface and underground coal mining operations."
The agency has submitted the proposal to several coal producing states for feedback before it releases proposed regulations by the end of February.
The states aren't happy with what they've seen.
They blasted the proposal as "nonsensical and difficult to follow" in a Nov. 23 letter to Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement director Joe Pizarchik. The letter was signed by officials from Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.
"Neither the environmental impact statement nor the administrative record that OSM has developed over 30-plus year of regulation ... justify the sweeping changes that they're proposing to make," West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection official Thomas Clarke told the Associated Press on Wednesday. "I've had OSM technical people who are concerned with stream impacts and outside contractors for OSM who are subcontractors on the EIS give me their opinion that the whole thing's a bunch of junk."
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said that if thousands of mining jobs could be lost, "then I will do everything in my power to block this wrong-headed proposal.
"Let me be crystal clear: I will fight any proposal from our federal government that poses a threat to our country's energy supply, West Virginia's coal industry, our jobs and our way of life," he said.
Manchin already plans to introduce legislation to curb the powers of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which recently vetoed a permit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had long ago issued for Arch Coal's Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County.