Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

March 21, 2013

New EPA rules

Democratic opposition important

— — A growing number of lawmakers are objecting to new federal Environmental Protection Agency rules that effectively ban the construction of new coal-fired power plants in America. And the latest opposition is coming from President Barack Obama’s own political party.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. and U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., have all signed and forwarded a letter to the White House asking the administration to revise the controversial new EPA rules. The lawmakers specifically seek a return to using different emission standards for gas and coal. They argue the old system worked for decades, and that the new rules are unnecessary.

The new EPA rules for fossil fuel-based power plants as currently drafted would effectively ban any new coal-fired plants from being built in the U.S., according to Manchin. The rules would also require any new coal-fueled power plants to meet the same emissions standards as new gas-fired plants.

“EPA’s choice to hold coal and gas to the same emission standard is unprecedented under the Clean Air Act, and is yet another example of EPA overreach by the Obama Administration,” Manchin said earlier this week. “Not only would this rule have a devastating effect on our coal production, this rule would endanger the reliability and sustainability of our electricity supply.”

Obama, in return, points to last year’s Superstorm Sandy as evidence of climate change, and the need to reduce America’s carbon footprint. He has repeated his pledge to battle climate change multiple times in recent weeks, including during his nomination of Gina McCarthy as his new EPA administrator.

However, Manchin correctly notes that the Obama administration should be an ally — not an adversary — when it comes to developing a national energy policy that includes abundantly available fossil fuels. He also correctly states that most experts agree that emissions from U.S. power plants have little impact on global emissions, and pale in comparison to fossil fuel usage by other countries that are doing little to address the science of global warming.

“President Obama’s EPA is departing from decades of clean air policy, attempting to force incredibly expensive and impossible to achieve standards on coal, with no benefit,” Manchin added. “After all, experts agree that emissions from all U.S. power plants have only a tiny impact on global emissions, and this already small share is shrinking every year, as China, India, and others dramatically scale up their fossil fuel use.”  

While we suspect the letter signed by Manchin, Donnelly, Heitkamp and Landrieu will be ignored, it is our hope that the administration would give their request serious consideration. But as it stands now, we can probably expect the administration to continue its war on coal and other fossil fuels for the next four years. And that’s really a shame.

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