Congressman Hal Rogers and other House Republicans have been complaining long and hard about President Obama’s “war on coal.”
Yesterday, they did something about it.
Rogers and his colleagues voted to put a damper on President Barack Obama's environ-mental policies in favor of increased coal production. The bill would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from restricting greenhouse gases, quash stricter fuel efficiency standards for cars and give states control over disposal of harmful coal byproducts.
“For the past three and a half years, this administration has waged war on Appalachian coal with job-killing regulations and a permit moratorium — driving coal out of the marketplace and miners out of work,” said Rogers yesterday. “In this year alone, Kentucky has lost over 2,000 good-paying coal jobs and dozens of businesses are downsizing as a result.
“Coal is not America’s energy problem, it is America’s energy solution — which is why this costly onslaught on Kentucky coal miners and American businesses has got to stop,” the Somerset congressman added. “‘The Stop the War on Coal Act’ will prevent Washington bureaucrats from issuing regulations that kill jobs and further set back our slow economic recovery. I am proud to stand in support of coal miners and coal communities today by sending a message to the President that his policies are wrong-headed not only for coal, but for our country.”
The "Stop the War on Coal Act," passed on a mainly party-line vote, is a companion to GOP campaign ads accusing Obama and Democrats of costing the U.S. hundreds of thousands of jobs while driving up energy prices. Democrats dismissed the legislation as political theatrics, pointing out that almost all the provisions had already passed in the House.
Nineteen Democrats — mostly from coal-producing and conservative-leaning states — broke ranks to join Republicans in the 233-175 vote. The legislation is dead on arrival in the Democratic-led Senate, and Obama has already threatened a veto should it ever reach his desk.
Democrats voting with Republicans Friday to support the package included Ben Chandler of Kentucky.
Republicans and conservative groups are working to saddle down-ballot Democrats with Obama's environmental policies, which are unpopular in energy-producing battleground states such as Virginia and Ohio. They argue that no source of jobs or affordable energy can be spared amid a still-weak economy, with unemployment at 8.1 percent, and reliance on oil from the tumultuous Middle East.
New fuel economy standards that cut tailpipe emissions — set for model years 2017-2025 — would be gutted by the act. So would the EPA's ability to regulate gases blamed for global warming. A 2007 Supreme Court ruling cleared the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases under its authority to control air pollutants, but the legislation amends the Clean Air Act to preclude any taxes or regulations on greenhouse gases.
Another provision would forbid the Interior Department from issuing any new rules that threaten mining jobs or U.S. coal production through the end of 2013. The package also would create a new agency to study how EPA rules harm jobs and energy prices.
The measure also would give states broad control over disposal of coal ash, a waste product from power plants, and protection of water quality near mining operations. Also nixed would be EPA standards for mercury and air toxins and a "good neighbor" rule that protects states that are downwind from polluting power plants.
The Associated Press contributed to this story