Mon. Co. mine operator testifies against stream protection rule proposal

WAJR file image
WAJR file image

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — The owner and CEO of a company that operates a Monongalia County mine testified against proposed stream protection rules at a public forum in Pittsburgh.

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement has announced the public comment period on the proposed rule has been extended into October.

Supporters of the July 16 proposal indicate it prevents coal mining impacts on surface and ground water.

Bob Murray spoke to reporters prior to his testimony at a Pittsburgh hotel Thursday.

“The Obama administration’s so-called stream protection rule, they call it, is the single greatest threat to the jobs and the family livelihoods of our employees that I’ve seen in my 58 years in the coal industry,” Murray claimed.

The stream protection rule would require coal companies to avoid practices that “permanently pollute streams, destroy drinking water sources, increase flood risk and threaten forests.”

It sets standards for stream restoration which the OSMRE reports protect habitats for fish and wildlife.

Murray Energy operates 17 active underground mines in 5 states including the Monongalia County mine near Blacksville.

“If he destroys it with this rule and eliminates the most environmentally acceptable way to mine coal, underground long wall mining, then the lights will go out in this country and people will freeze in the dark,” Murray said.

The Blacksville mine was idled in March. In June, several hundred employees were called back to work.

The Charleston Civic Center is the site of a September 17 public hearing on the proposed stream protection rule.