By Molly Messick
Laramie, WY – U.S. Senator John Barrasso is protesting a Department of the Interior proposal to strengthen oversight of state-implemented surface coal mining programs. Under those regulations, the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement would do its own inspections of coal mine operations. For decades, those operations have been inspected by the states. Senator Barrasso says the federal government is overreaching, "Wyoming I think has done a wonderful job with multiple use of the land so we can protect the land in a very responsible way but also use the resources that have been important to power our country and have been an important part of our economy. I always view Wyoming's approach as better than the national approach."
The Interior Department proposal is also aiming to change a Bush Administration rule, issued in 2008, that allows surface coal mine operators to dump excess mined material into streams, provided there aren't easy alternatives.