President Donald Trump signed a bill into law on Feb. 16 to undo a rule from former President Barack Obama's administration that barred the coal mining industry from dumping waste into streams and other waterways.
Despite criticism from environmentalists, Trump said undoing the "terrible job killing rule" would bring more jobs to Americans, The Hill reports.
"This is a major threat to your jobs and we're going to get rid of this threat," Trump said upon signing the new law. "We're going to fight for you."
The Obama administration finalized the Office of Surface Mining's Stream Protection Rule in December 2016 amid protests from Republicans who called the regulations excessive and unnecessary.
Meanwhile, Democrats and environmental activists have said that the GOP has ended environmental regulations, but has done very little else to help former miners find adequate work to support themselves.
"If you want to help miners, then come address their health and safety and their pension program," Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee's ranking member, said on the floor while lawmakers debated whether to pass the Congressional Review Act to repeal the Obama-era law.
Republican legislators, especially those with coal industry-heavy constituencies, have worked to undo the regulation several times.
"In my home state of Kentucky and others across the nation, the stream buffer rule will cause major damage to communities and threaten coal jobs," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said before voting on the bill. "We should heed their call now and begin bringing relief to coal country."
Trump's administration is expected to continue working to scale back environmental protection regulations, especially as Scott Pruitt, whom the Senate confirmed on Feb. 17, takes the reigns as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, notes The New York Times. Pruitt, an Oklahoma attorney general, is a long term EPA opponent who has filed federal lawsuits against the agency several times throughout his career.