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Mining group challenges 'critically flawed' Obama stream protection rule

The National Mining Association has filed a complaint against the Obama administration over its Stream Protection Rule.

Several representatives in Congress are already aiming to overturn the controversial rule finalized by the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement in the last few weeks of the Obama administration. The rule drew sharp criticism from the coal mining industry, which claims the effort is an unprecedented overreach of federal regulatory authority that poses a "significant threat to America's coal industry."

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges the rule imposes requirements that will be difficult or impossible for underground mines to meet. It also suggests the rule oversteps its bounds in other ways, including infringing upon states' regulatory primacy, overstepping its authority as it pertains to fish and wildlife, and unlawfully defining certain terms.

"The final version of the [Stream Protection Rule] spans nearly 400 pages in the Federal Register," the NMA wrote. "Like the proposal, the final rule amends hundreds of regulations implementing [federal mining regulations], many of them in ways that radically alter their meaning and scope from existing law. In the final rule, OSMRE largely disregarded NMA's substantive comments. To that end, nearly all of the flaws that NMA identified in its comments on the proposed rule continue to pervade the final [Stream Protection Rule]."

Similar challenges have been filed by a coalition of states and Murray Energy Corp. The NMA is asking the court to declare the rule unlawful.