09.19.2012 1

House readies for battle against Obama’s war on coal ahead of elections

Rep. Bill Johnson

Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) has introduced the Stop the War on Coal Act. Source: House of Representatives television feed

By Rebekah Rast — In a final act before voters make their way to the polls, the U.S. House of Representatives is readying itself for battle against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Obama Administration’s apparent war on coal.

The Republican-led House is hoping the Stop the War on Coal Act, H.R. 3409, will leave a lasting impression on voters by highlighting the onslaught of regulations and rules against America’s prime electricity source that threatens countless jobs and higher energy prices across the nation.

This act includes various provisions prohibiting the EPA and the Obama administration from pursuing and implementing an attack on coal production and use.  The House Energy and Commerce Committee claims bipartisan support of the Energy Tax Prevention Act, the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act and the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act will save jobs and keep energy prices down for American families and businesses.

“Just looking at the EPA’s mercury emission regulations alone — which require power plants to be retrofitted with new technologies — costs billions of dollars to implement,” says Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG).  “However due to the prohibitively high cost of this new technology, many older coal-fired plants are being shut down, ending countless Americans jobs for those who depend on coal for their livelihoods.”

A vote on this legislation is expected Friday, Sept. 21; it is a welcome start to reining in the prevailing and overbearing EPA.

The EPA’s vendetta against coal has led to a complete break in their lawful powers as it weasels its way into the states through a process called “sue and settle.”  Through this process the EPA is able to create new laws without any consent from Congress or the president.

This political game consists of radical environmental groups, which typically ally with the EPA, but on a specific rule or regulation don’t think the EPA is doing a good enough job.  These groups then sue the EPA and the Agency settles with them agreeing to fix the problem. Therefore a court-imposed deadline on the EPA leaves it with no other option but to override the state’s regulations and enforce its own controls.

In one such EPA rule, the Regional Haze Rule, such lawsuits have enabled the Agency to act far beyond its constitutional authority.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in a report titled, “EPA’s New Regulatory Front: Regional Haze and the Takeover of State Programs,” highlights how the EPA, along with court-mandated deadlines, has bullied its way into state territory by delaying state plans for emission control.

By combining this tactic of delaying approval of the state plans with Sue and Settle and a court-imposed deadline to act, EPA has manufactured a loophole to provide itself with the ability to reach into the state haze decision-making process and supplant the state as decision maker. EPA has, effectively, engineered a way to get around the protections of state primacy built into the Regional Haze statute by Congress.”

This rule alone is threatening to devastate communities and industries throughout the U.S.

There is no industry immune to the EPA’s overreach.  For now, the EPA and this administration have coal on their radar, but that’s not to say others won’t come into their crosshairs.

The Stop the War on Coal Act is a starting point allowing Congress to take back some of the EPA’s new-found power and protect America’s vast energy supply.

“If our hope is to bring America out of this recession in one piece then affordable energy is a must,” ALG’s Wilson concluded.  “The House must pass this legislation and begin the arduous task of reining in the out-of-control EPA.”

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) and NetRightDaily.com. You can follow her on twitter at @RebekahRast.

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