President Barack Obama could not resist a parting shot that extended his legacy of vindictive executive overreach. When his administration released a new Stream Protection Rule on Monday, the intent was clear: one last attempted blow to coal miners and their families.
In a re-working of the George W. Bush administration’s Stream Buffer Zone Rule (which, by the way, was vacated by a federal judge), the new rule requires additional data gathering and monitoring at and around mine sites, and imposes new financial assurance and reclamation requirements.
It was a work-in-progress for most of Obama’s administration — taking so long, in fact, that most states ended up withdrawing from cooperative agreements to work on the rule with the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation after they realized they were being kept in the dark for much of the process.
Implementation of such a rule — which industry leaders criticize as federal overreach based on questionable science — would threaten the livelihoods of 80,000 coal miners and their families, according to U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., who estimated implementation of the rule would result in a decrease of up to 85 percent in coal reserves available for mining.
But Obama is not worried about the rule’s implementation, or streams, for that matter. He wanted to send a message.
“This rule is nothing but an insult to the working men and women of this country,” McKinley said. And that is all Obama means it to be, because he, like McKinley, knows Congress and President-elect Donald Trump will overturn it.
“It is clear that this administration was not paying attention in November,” McKinley said.
On the contrary, what is clear is that Obama and his followers were paying attention, and could not resist the chance to demonstrate one more time that voters who do not see things their way will be targeted for punitive action.
One good thing about Obama’s move on Monday: Because it occurred just a month before Trump takes office, the federal bureaucracy cannot claim the program is too far along to be canceled in January.
That is precisely what Trump should do on his very first day in office.