Republicans plan House vote on five pro-coal bills

The week of Sept. 17, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider the Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012, a package of five bills that the Republican majority in the House said will help end the Obama Administration’s “war on coal.”

Included in the package is a House Natural Resources Committee bill, H.R. 3409, the Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio. H.R. 3409 will protect American jobs and support U.S. energy production by prohibiting the Secretary of the Interior from issuing new rules or regulations that will adversely impact mining jobs and the economy, said a Sept. 13 statement from the GOP majority on the resources committee.

“Shortly after taking office, the Obama Administration discarded a coal production regulation, the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule, that underwent five years of environmental review and public comment,” said the committee statement. “The Administration has spent millions of taxpayer dollars working to rewrite this rule including hiring new contractors, only to dismiss those same contractors once it was publicly revealed that the Administration’s new proposed regulation could cost 7,000 jobs and cause economic harm in 22 states. It’s now unclear where the Administration is at in the process of conducting this rewrite and if they are hiding the ball and intentionally concealing the true economic impacts until after the November election.”

For over a year and a half, the committee has conducted an extensive investigation into the stream buffer zone rule rewrite. “The Interior Department has failed to meet a single deadline for document requests and has ignored two Congressional subpoenas for further information,” said Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash. “The Obama Administration’s war on coal knows no bounds. The bill authored by Rep. Bill Johnson is necessary in order to stop the Administration from imposing their job-destroying regulation that they are writing in secret and concealing the true economic impacts.”

“President Obama’s war on coal is real, and in Eastern and Southeastern Ohio we are witnessing the devastating effects of his policies firsthand,” said Johnson. “Coal mines are closing and miners are finding themselves in the unemployment lines. Additionally, countless indirect coal jobs have been put at risk because of the President’s unwavering commitment to stop underground mining. The Coal Act of 2012 puts a stop to President Obama’s war on the coal industry and the jobs that go with it. Ending President Obama’s assault on coal is an important step to creating much-needed jobs, lowering energy prices, and making America energy independent.”

The Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012 includes the following bills:

  • H.R. 3409, the Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act;
  • H.R. 910, Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011;
  • H.R. 2401, Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011;
  • H.R. 2273, Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act; and
  • H.R. 2018, Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011.

This bill, if it makes it through the GOP-dominated House, is considered by observers to be unlikely to get positive votes in the Democratic-controlled Senate. That would be unless enough coal-state Democrats, like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, decide to take a stand against the White House.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.