'End the War on Coal Act' Comes To House Floor For Vote

Stacy Washington | September 20, 2012 | 9:41am EDT
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Four previously passed House bills aimed at limiting excessive regulation affecting the coal industry have remained stalled in the Senate.  This prompted the House to include them in legislation crafted by the 112th Congress scheduled for a vote on Friday. The vote will be on a new bill entitled "End the War on Coal Act of 2012" H.R. 3409, which is comprised of the following five pieces of legislation:

The first of these is H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, passed in April 2011. It would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.  Essentially, this bill clamps down on unnecessary actions and regulations enacted to address climate change.

H.R. 3409, the Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act; prevents the Secretary of the Interior from issuing new regulations before December 31, 2013 under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 that would adversely impact mining jobs.  This bill was submitted for printing after passage on September 13, 2012.

Next up is H.R. 2018, the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act, passed in July 2011. This bill would limit EPA action with regard to state regulation of water quality, specifically preserving the authority of states to control and determine their own water quality standards without limitation.

H.R. 2273, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act, passed in October of 2011.  It curtails the EPA's ability to regulate the disposal of coal ash from power plants using an existing program created by the Environmental Protection Agency.  The bill leaves regulation and enforcement to states under an umbrella of enforceable federal standards.

Rounding out the grouping is H.R. 2401, the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act, or TRAIN Act, passed in September 2011, which would require analysis of the effects of proposed environmental regulations on manufacturing, energy prices and jobs

The importance of passing this package of bills is emphasized by the negative impact excessive regulations have had on jobs and livelihoods of Americans employed in the coal industry.

Regulations issued by the EPA intended to execute President Obama's promise to bankrupt individuals planning to build coal fired plants are doing exactly that.   By making it prohibitive to build new plants while closing over 60 plants and dooming another 175 plants to closure, the regulatory burden is increasing the cost of energy to American consumers.  This attack on the coal industry, an integral source of affordable reliable energy for the entire country, is problematic, yet it remains under the radar of the average American citizen.

The worst possible time to impose regulations on businesses is during a prolonged persistent downturn in the economy.  Already in 2012, two thousand jobs have been lost due to coal plant closures, with the distinct possibility of 10,000 more layoffs to come.

In a statement addressing recent layoffs at his companies, PBS Coals President and CEO D. Lynn Shanks reported softening in foreign and domestic markets for coal, stating:

"Additionally, the escalating costs and uncertainty generated by recently advanced EPA regulations and interpretations have created a challenging business climate for the entire coal industry."

PBS Coals Inc. and its affiliate company, RoxCoal Inc., employ 795 workers after laying off roughly 225 as part of an immediate idling of five of their mining operations in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

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