When Congress voted this week to wipe out a new federal regulation making it harder to dump coal-mining debris into nearby streams, all of Maine’s congressional representatives opposed the move.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican from Maine’s 2nd District, said the rule adopted during the last days of the Obama administration “should move forward because it will better protect our streams and surface water.”

“It’s critical we protect our state’s pristine environment — Maine’s brand,” Poliquin said.

Poliquin was among the nine GOP lawmakers who opposed the effort to kill the new coal waste disposal rule. Repeal passed the House on Wednesday by a 228-194 margin, with four Democrats favoring it.

The U.S. Senate narrowly approved it Thursday as well, on a 54-45 vote.

Maine’s Angus King, an independent, and Susan Collins, the Republican senior senator from Maine, each voted against it.


Repeal of the rule only requires President Donald Trump’s signature now, which is virtually certain given his vehement support for the coal industry during the campaign.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said the rule is “really about clean water” and making sure “polluters clean up their messes.”

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from Maine’s 1st District, also opposed the move.

But U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, said the measure was just “one last shot” against coal from President Barack Obama that “made it more difficult for an already distressed industry to provide a reliable and affordable energy source for our economy.”

The coal rule vote likely is the first of many from Republicans determined to roll back regulations imposed by Obama bureaucrats.

They are relying on a once-obscure provision in the Congressional Review Act, that allows Congress to overturn recent regulations without the necessity of securing a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, where the GOP holds 52 of 100 seats. Many bills cannot advance in the Senate without at least 60 supporters.

Under the review act, if majorities of both houses reverse a regulation, all it takes to make the change final is the president’s signature.

When the Interior Department imposed the new rule in December, it said it would protect 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests from coal-mining debris that can pollute water.

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