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Upton and Inhofe in POLITICO: Fighting off the war on coal
September 21, 2012

Posted by Katie Brown Katie_Brown@epw.senate.gov

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Politico

Fighting off the war on coal

By Rep. Fred Upton and Sen. Jim Inhofe

September 20, 2012

Link to Op Ed

"When the work underground stops," a TV reporter in Boone County, W.Va., said last Friday, "everything above pays the price." She was reporting that two local coal mines would soon start laying off workers. One was preparing to lay off 116 miners in a matter of weeks, the second had yet to finalize the number to be let go.

This is a situation that has sadly become all too familiar under the Obama administration's war on coal. Alpha Natural Resources Tuesday announced it will be scaling back its coal production, eliminating 1,200 jobs and closing eight mines in Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Alpha's chief executive officer, Kevin Crutchfield, lamented "a regulatory environment that's aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal."

The House on Friday plans to launch a counterattack to the administration's relentless efforts to regulate coal into oblivion, by voting on the Stop the War on Coal Act to prevent more job losses and plant closures. This is a series of bills that aim to stop the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory assault on the U.S. coal power sector.

The package includes the Energy Tax Prevention Act that we introduced in the House and Senate respectively - and passed the House with bipartisan support. Our legislation would stop the EPA from using the Clean Air Act to impose a costly cap-and-tax agenda that would burden broad sectors of the economy.

Consider, OhioAmerican Energy, this summer announced it would close its coal mining operations in Brilliant, Ohio. It cited "regulatory actions by President Barack Obama and his appointees" as the "entire reason." GenOn announced in February that it would shutter 13 percent of its generating capacity by 2015, again due to new environmental regulations. FirstEnergy announced in January the early retirement of six plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, due to the high cost and uncertainty associated with new EPA regulations.

The list goes on. And the EPA is not only targeting coal mines, it is targeting the most significant source of our affordable electricity, coal-fired power plants. More than 200 coal-based electric generation units are due to be shut down, partly due to the EPA's regulatory assault, accorded to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity analysis, released this week. The closing of 204 coal units stretches across 25 states and represents 31,000 megawatts of generating capacity. This is the equivalent to turning off the lights across the entire state of Ohio.

There has been a lot of discussion on how close we are to achieving North American Energy Independence by developing our bountiful domestic petroleum resources and partnering with our neighbors in Canada on important infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline.

We often take for granted, however, that we are already electricity independent, since we have abundant and reliable resources to power homes and businesses for centuries - unless the Obama EPA gets its way. The Obama administration's "all of the above but nothing from below" energy policy threatens our electricity independence.

It is coal communities like Boone County, which have struggled mightily during this economic downturn. Every time they get knocked down, they get right back up. Unfortunately, the government has now turned into one of the biggest obstacles to their very way of life.

As more plants and mines shutter, more and more folks will continue to struggle. The Stop the War on Coal Act puts jobs first. We are united in our efforts to protect jobs and stand up for those communities paying the price when the work underground stops.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) is ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

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