House Republicans almost to a person perceive President Barack Obama’s speech on climate change and alternative energy as a formal declaration of an “Obama war on coal” and are already planning a counteroffensive.
After Obama unveiled his plan for federal action to cut coal production and limit carbon dioxide emissions, Republican Rep. Ted Poe of Texas spelled out his own legislation to ban federal funding to the Environmental Protection Agency for regulating greenhouse gases.
New analysis shows that the coal industry is in for some tough years ahead, as more than 280 coal-fired generating units are slated to be shut down in part due to stricter Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
The president’s apparent desire to bankrupt the coal industry is part of a two-step process. According to James McGarry, a policy analyst at the environmental activist group the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the EPA “is probably going to set standards that any new power plant that’s built in the U.S. has to achieve a certain carbon dioxide emissions rate per unit of energy produced.”
In recent years, many Democrats in Congress have sought to increase regulations on coal plants and other conventional energy-production facilities. In 2009, House Democrats (who controlled the chamber at the time) passed a landmark climate change bill that was ultimately shot down in the Democratic-led Senate. And now with Republicans controlling the House, efforts to pass meaningful climate change legislation will be an even greater challenge.
President Obama is clearly adopting a new strategy — that is, to rule by executive order, circumventing Congress and bypassing the Constitution’s restraints on presidential power, as he has already done on a range of issues, including a brazenly unconstitutional power to detain and indefinitely imprison Americans who have not been charged with any crime. Koenig, Brian. “Coal Plants Likely the First Targets of Climate-change Executive Orders,” 2013
The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a partnership of industry groups, reports that the number of coal plants slated for shutdown is five times greater than the EPA predicted would be forced to shut down due to its regulations.
Coal-fired electric generating plants will be shut down across 32 states, with the hardest hit states being Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Indiana, according to the coalition.
American coal creates 766,000 jobs, more than $52 billion in wages to support American families, 40 percent of the nation’s electric generation and is a basic requirement for the production of steel, yet President Obama has openly denounced coal, calling its use in the past a “mistake” — an insult to the generations of coal miners who made America the greatest nation in the world. He has used executive orders to bypass Congress, imposing impossible standards that will raise the price of energy for all Americans.
Residents of eastern Ohio and northern West Virginia who have long relied on relatively cheap electricity from coal soon may see their market squeezed. Obama recently directed the EPA to crack down on carbon emissions, specifically those coming from coal-fired power plants, to “prepare our nation for the unavoidable impact of climate change.” “This means a loss of jobs in West Virginia and skyrocketing electricity costs,” said former gubernatorial candidate Harry Bertram..
The state Department of Commerce said West Virginia’s international coal exports grew by 40 percent last year, with China and Japan buying the most.
Those numbers were discussed at a coal forum in Charleston. However, some in attendance were left wondering why it seems like West Virginia coal is in demand everywhere around the world and not here in the U.S.
“You have to wonder with the legislation the way it is why can’t use the product that we really manufacture and mine ourselves,” Rick Altman, a coal miner from Marshall County, said. “If you can’t do it here why do you have to put it somewhere else?”
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin was the forum’s keynote speaker. He said something must be done to temper what he viewed as the Environmental Protection Agency’s assault on coal and coal-fired power plants. Tomblin said the agency needs to consider the big picture, including jobs and the economy, when dealing with coal.
“I would just certainly hope that congress could come together and put the reins on the EPA,” Tomblin said. “In our state, if we have a department that gets out of control the legislature or the governor is able to reel them in. It seems that the EPA is an agency that operates independently of everybody.
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