CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is terminating its cooperating agency status agreement with the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement in the preparation of a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on proposed revisions to the federal surface mining regulations referred to as the Stream Protection Rule.
“We entered into this agreement in good faith, believing that OSM wanted to engage West Virginia and other coal-producing states as active partners in the development of the Stream Protection Rule EIS,” said DEP Cabinet Secretary Randy C. Huffman. “It is clear now that our faith in this relationship was misplaced. OSM has shown a complete lack of interest in the input of the states most affected by this rule. It appears the federal agency wanted nothing more than the rubber stamp of state agencies on a rule that those states were given no opportunity to help craft.”
It was revealed at a recent meeting of the Interstate Mining Compact Commission that OSM has substantially revised the draft EIS to include a range of alternatives beyond the original scope of examining the federal stream buffer zone rule. These revisions were made without meaningful input from the West Virginia DEP and other states that had agreed to participate as cooperating agencies in the drafting of the EIS. OSM informed the cooperating agencies at this meeting that there would be no further opportunities for dialogue and that the states wouldn’t see the draft EIS until it is published for public comment.
Because of the lack of communication and engagement, the WVDEP believes it is no longer in the best interest of the department to continue as a cooperating agency.
For more DEP news and information, go to www.dep.wv.gov. Also, be sure to connect with the agency on all social media platforms. Follow @DEPWV on Twitter and find us on YouTube by searching “Environment Matters.” For specific information about the Adopt-A-Highway, West Virginia Project WET (Water Education for Teachers), West Virginia NonPoint Source and Youth Environmental Program initiatives, or the DEP’s Human Resources group, connect on Facebook.