On Monday, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) unveiled new legislation that would require the EPA to expedite the process for coal companies seeking permits to open new mines, as covered by the Associated Press. U.S. Representative Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) plans to introduce similar legislation in the House next week.
McConnell’s “Coal Jobs Protection Act” is a promising step in protecting the coal industry from what he asserts is EPA action beyond its “scope of authority” by making the permitting process for coal mines more burdensome, The Hill noted.
“Coal is a vital part of my state’s economy, and a vital part of America’s energy portfolio,” McConnell said. “The EPA’s attack on this important Kentucky industry hampers the growth of jobs, and it especially hampers the growth of small business — the greatest engine of job creation.”
McConnell clearly recognizes the importance of coal in keeping our nation’s economy strong, providing good jobs to hard-working Americans, and preserving access to affordable and reliable energy. In his own state of Kentucky, over 4,000 coal industry jobs have been lost – a drop of nearly 30 percent – prompting action through this new legislative measure.
In a letter released on Monday, four Democratic senators from energy-producing states have urged President Barack Obama’s administration to amend the EPA’s new source performance standard regulations.
Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana requested President Obama to urge the EPA to differentiate the standards based on fuel type and establish supercritical coal generation technology as the performance standard for new coal-based technology.
“Our nation can continue to use coal and continue to lower emissions at the sametime. Coal-based power generation projects are being developed across the country, using state-of-the-art technologies that are laying the foundation for revolutionary advancements in power plant efficiency and reduced CO2 levels.
These advancements in technology are allowing us to modernize the existing coal-fueled fleet improving efficiency and reducing emissions, while continuing to produce low-cost electricity for homes, offices and factories.”
Adopting the proposed regulations would have the effect of preventing existing plants from making upgrades that would allow for more electricity generation with less fuels and fewer emissions, the senators wrote.
With last month’s announcement from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson that she was resigning her post, an opinion piece published in USNews.com this week asked “Will EPA Chief’s Departure Prompt Better Energy Policy?”
Author Pete Sepp writes:
“Aside from imposing brutally expensive regulations affecting electricity production, such as the $9.6 billion Utility MACT Rule and other punitive measures against coal power, the EPA was roundly criticized for considering ways to implement, through administrative fiat, failed legislation to impose a cap-and-trade national energy tax.”
The next EPA Administrator needs to understand that it’s best to take a common sense action to protect the environment while not harming American jobs and consumers.
Ultimately, the next head of the EPA needs to fully analyze and understand the full, cumulative economic impacts of its regulations. American jobs are at stake, as well as access to affordable, reliable electricity that is essential to our economic recovery. Let’s hope, at the very least, the next leader of the EPA has these characteristics as part of their personal philosophy.