This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) prohibiting federal funds from being used to enforce a federal regulation preventing toxic waste from coal mines from contaminating nearby rivers and streams. This amendment was offered to a continuing resolution funding the federal government through September 2011, and cutting $61 billion in federal funding for many government programs.
Johnson urged support for his amendment: “…The unemployment rate in my home state of Ohio is 9.6 percent. In parts of eastern and southeastern Ohio that I represent, we have double-digit unemployment. The average unemployment in the 12 counties I represent is 10.9 percent. There are entire communities that depend largely on the coal industry, both for direct and indirect jobs, and these jobs would be threatened by this proposed rules change…. My amendment would simply prohibit any funding to be spent on developing, carrying out, or implementing this ill-conceived proposed job-killing rule. I strongly urge my colleagues to support my amendment to stop the Obama administration from going forward with a regulation that will result in thousands of hardworking Americans losing their jobs.”
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) opposed the amendment: “…This amendment would essentially destroy efforts to put an end to the damage that is wrought by mountaintop removal….you blow off the top of these beautiful mountains. You push all of the stuff that you've blown up into the valleys that surround it, poisoning streams, poisoning the people who live nearby, poisoning the water supply that feeds much of Appalachia. This is damage that is irreversible. It will never be like this again because nothing grows here. Now, I know a lot of people try to justify mountaintop removal by saying this is an economic boon for the region. In fact, since mountaintop removal became a prevalent practice, mining jobs have actually declined by more than 50 percent. This is not good for the people of Kentucky and Appalachia. It's not good for the economy, and it's certainly not good for the environment.”
The House agreed to this amendment by a vote of 239-186. Voting “yea” were 228 Republicans and 11 Democrats. 177 Democrats and 9 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House agreed to an amendment prohibiting funds provided by a continuing resolution from being used to enforce a federal regulation preventing toxic waste from coal mines from contaminating nearby rivers and streams.