Policy Feature Issue: Read Out from the Natural Resources Committee Hearing on the Administration’s War on Coal

“Obama Administration’s War on Coal: The Recent Report by the Office of the Inspector General”
House Natural Resources Committee
Witness: Robert A. Knox, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations
January 9, 2014

The Office of Inspector General recently released a report on the Obama Administration’s rewrite of a coal production regulation, the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule.  The Administration has spent millions of dollars, in secret, working on a new regulation that will put thousands of Americans out of work and increase electricity costs.

Mr. Knox testified that the IG’s investigation confirmed that this has been a grossly mismanaged rulemaking process that has gone on for five years and has cost over $9 million taxpayer dollars – with absolutely nothing to show for it.

Chairman Hastings questioned why the IG had provided only a redacted copy of its report to the Committee at the direction of the Department and expressed concern the most heavily redacted section apparently concerned similar issues with the current contractors.

Representative Lamborn asked whether a senior Department official provided untruthful testimony about the development of the job loss numbers when he testified in November 2011.  Mr. Knox said the IG has been unable to determine whether the official’s testimony was inaccurate and was not planning to investigate further.

Other Members questioned Mr. Knox about political pressure to downplay the potential job losses, how the arbitrary litigation deadlines contributed to the contractor’s problems, and about wasteful spending associated with this rulemaking.