… while Illinois Coal Association seeks more time to digest rules changes

 

From Illinois Business Journal news services

ST. CHARLES, Mo., – Dozens gathered in a crowded room at the St. Charles Convention Center Thursday night to voice their concerns about the limited time given to review mining rules changes proposed by the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.

Over the past six years, OSM has been working to rewrite the laws that govern how mines operate. In total more than 475 rules have been amended and modified, and new ones have been added in the more than 6,000 pages of documents recently released.

Initially OSM was giving interested parties just six public listening sessions across the country, and only until the end of September to comment. But on Thursday it announced an extension on the comment period until the end of October.

Miners, the companies that employ them and the Illinois Coal Association say even the additional few weeks does not provide enough time to review such an important series of changes.

“These rules changes are a massive overhaul of federal mining regulations and could result in the elimination of many good paying jobs in the area,” said Phil Gonet, president of the Illinois Coal Association. “The fact that this public hearing is being held in St. Charles, Mo., nearly 100 miles from the nearest coal mine, shows just how difficult OSM wants to make it for miners and their families to have their voices heard.”

Over the past few years, roughly 40,000 mining jobs have been lost in the country, the association says, adding that the rules changes could cost 80,000 mining jobs — without benefit to the environment.

People can weigh in on the rules proposal through Oct. 26 at www.regulations.gov .

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