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Murray Energy testifies before House of Representatives on the stream protection rule

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Ryan M. Murray, Testifies Before United States House of Representatives Regarding the Stream Protection Rule
The following is the statement that Mr. Ryan M. Murray, Vice President of Operations of Murray Energy Corporation, is presenting today before the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial &
Antitrust Law, regarding the national destruction being caused by the Department of the Interior, Office of Surface Mining’s proposed Stream Protection Rule, which bans the utilization underground coal mining beneath dry ditches on the surface:
My name is Ryan M. Murray. I am Vice President of Operations at Murray Energy Corporation, our Nation’s largest underground coal mining company. I am
here today to discuss the devastating impacts from the Stream Protection Rule proposed by the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement of the Department of
Interior, on the Nation’s mining operations, our proud American coal miners and their families, our numerous suppliers, and our communities. While I will focus today on the Stream Protection Rule, or “SPR,” it is just one of many regulations from this Administration that are destroying our industry’s jobs, operations, suppliers, communities, and families.
Murray Energy employees about 6,000 Americans in six states, and currently operates 17 active underground coal mines in Ohio, Illinois, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Utah. The SPR is the single greatest threat to the jobs and family livelihoods of our employees and suppliers that we have ever witnessed.
Murray Energy and subsidiary companies have over 2,000 employees out of work from our peak employment of over 8,000 employees in May, 2015. Several hundred of these men and women I hired myself. Due to the destructive and illegal actions of the Obama Administration,
our industry is under attack. America’s coal miners and their families, suppliers, and entire
communities are indisputably being destroyed. Now, with the proposed Stream Protection Rule,
our industry will be eliminated for no environmental benefit whatsoever.
The SPR was originally conceived to keep surface mining operations from mining through streams. However, during the six years it took OSM to draft the SPR, the rule was manipulated into a complete rewrite of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of
1977. This is most likely due to the fact that OSM drafted the rule largely behind closed doors
and without meaningful input from primacy state agencies, nearly all of whom dropped out of
the formal consultation process with OSM because they deemed it to be a sham, and without
input from critical coal industry stakeholders, like Murray Energy.
Now, the SPR will ultimately end all longwall mining in the United States. Longwall mining is the safest, most modern, cost effective, productive, and environmentally friendly method of mining in existence. While this rule appears to only apply to surface mining, by design of those orchestrating this rule, it ends the largest underground mines in our Country.Due to OSM’s incredibly broad and unsupported interpretations in the SPR, extremely vast portions of Murray Energy’s coal
reserves, and those of all coal companies using underground mining methods, will be sterilized if
the rule is finalized as proposed. Incredibly, OSM has not even considered the need for a grandfathering provision, which means that primacy states will be required to overturn existing permits for which significant time, planning, and resources have already been expended. Simply stated, the SPR eliminates the US coal industry.
The SPR will result in severe financial impacts to the mining industry and employees, including underground mining operators like Murray Energy. For underground mining operations, the SPR is expected to strand 289 million tons of coal reserves annually with a value
of at least $18.2 billion per year. Additional impacts shown by third party analysis include: a decrease in recovery of coal reserves by up to 64 percent; loss of annual contribution to the Nation’s GDP of between $26.7 and $58.7 billion; and $3.1 to $6.4 billion in federal and state tax revenue reductions. This will be devastating for America.
The financial impacts are by no means limited to these bottom line values.
This is a human issue to me and from a workforce perspective. Layoffs are expected to be
dramatic, with between 40,000 and 77,000 coal miners expected to lose their jobs. These estimates completely undercut OSM’s ridiculous suggestion that there will be minimal job impacts from the rule because coal mining jobs will be replaced with compliance and government inspector positions. The broader effects of these layoffs will be enormous as suppliers, retailers, and others feel the impact of reduced spending from the mining industry.
One outside expert concluded that the SPR could cost 112,757 to 280,809 jobs throughout the United
States. Another analysis indicates that there is an even greater ripple effect, where one lost mining job causes a loss of a total of 11 jobs, meaning up to 850,000 lost jobs as a result of the
SPR. In Murray Energy, I work with these men and women each day and am very seriously concerned about the livelihoods of their families.
For a coal miner, losing a job, even temporarily, is financially devastating. Most often the
major asset owned by many miners is their home. When they lose their job, and have to relocate
just to attempt to find work, to whom are they supposed to sell their home? Their community is
devastated and there is no one to whom to sell their home.
The Administration asserts that these
coal miners will simply be retrained for other work within their communities. The reality is that
there are virtually no other high paying jobs in these communities. The average wages of a US coal miner are typically double those of the average in their community. Additionally, suppliers to the coal industry will further be devastated by the SPR. For example, one major equipment
supplier to the mining industry who is a world leader in innovation and development of custom designed mining equipment had their first layoff in the company’s 80 year history just last month. The SPR will push this innovation and manufacturing to other countries, permanently.
Lastly, the impacts on coal mining communities themselves will be significant. Many of these
communities rely on coal severance tax revenues to fund critical programs and projects, including local school districts. OSM wholly ignored all of these real world consequences, which disproportionally affect low-income households.
Murray Energy’s comments on the SPR include over 14,000 pages of analysis prepared
by the Nation’s foremost legal and technical experts, which outlines, in great detail, the
innumerable flaws and defects in OSM’s proposal, and provides literature citations that are
highly relevant to this rulemaking, which OSM either overlooked or intentionally omitted from
its supporting record. As Murray Energy’s comments demonstrate, the SPR will destroy longwall
mining in the United States, cause energy prices to skyrocket, and devastate the jobs and
livelihoods of millions of Americans who depend on the economic activity that coal mining
Even after OSM released its SPR proposal for a miserly 60-day comment period
(subsequently extended only once, for a mere 30 additional days), OSM withheld key documents
that are essential for the public review and comment process. Indeed, even after Murray Energy
submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for these documents, OSM blithely ignored Murray Energy’s request. On October 5, 2015, Murray Energy sued OSM for its illegal
failure to respond. OSM cannot possibly hope to win this lawsuit. Instead, OSM withheld these documents, and, now that the comment period has ended, the States, industry, and other interested groups will not be able to comment on them. This is the epitome of bad faith, and it is
Coal miners from Murray Energy attended each and every public hearing convened by OSM during the public comment period. Over 1,000 people attended these hearings in
opposition to OSM’s proposal. By sheer numbers, the opposition dwarfed any proponents of this
misguided and fatally flawed rulemaking at least ten to one, and OSM must take note.
The Obama Administration’s regulatory assault can best be described as a political power grab for America’s power grid. The SPR and the countless other anti-coal regulations such as the Clean Power Plan, Clean Water, Mine Dust, and Ozone Rules are destroying our country’s lowcost source of baseload electricity generation. Meanwhile, wind and solar power continue to be
propped up by government and tax subsidies. However, for me, this Administration’s policies are truly felt at a personal level. I have had the privilege of witnessing many hundreds of our employees improve their standard of living, raise families, send their children to college, and pursue their American dream. It is my sincere hope that Congress will ensure that this American
dream stays alive and the devastation wrought by this administration, and particularly the SPR, is

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