Obama seeks reversal of mountaintop mining rule

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is taking steps to reverse a last-minute Bush-era rule that allows mountaintop mining waste to be dumped near streams.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Monday the administration will ask a federal court to abandon the rule that made it easier for coal mining companies to dump waste near streams. If the court agrees, the Obama administration could start drafting a new regulation that better protects waterways and communities sooner than if it sought to rewrite the measure itself.

Salazar said the rule, finalized with a little more than a month before President George W. Bush left office, was bad policy. Two lawsuits pending in federal court sought to block or overturn the rule. The Obama administration’s decision puts the federal government in the rare position of siding with the parties that filed the lawsuits.

“The Secretary of the Interior’s move to undo a seven year rulemaking process is precipitous and will only add to the uncertainty that is delaying mining operations and jeopardizing jobs,” National Mining Association Chief Executive Hal Quinn said in a statement. “We trust the Secretary of the Interior does not plan on engaging in a de facto rulemaking, thereby avoiding the transparency integral to a fair and legal regulation.”

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