Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

June 3, 2014

Global warming: Obama plan a job killer

— — President Barack Obama says his new carbon emission plan is another way of “skinning the cat” in terms of addressing climate change, or the science formerly known as global warming. But here in the coalfields of southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia, the new plan is seen as further proof of an unprecedented war on coal. And it is viewed as a crippling and unacceptable job killer.

The controversial plan unveiled by Obama Monday would cuts carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by nearly a third over the next 15 years. Under the new Environmental Protection Agency rules, carbon emissions would be reduced 30 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, setting into motion an unprecedented move to combat global warming — a science that is still disputed by some who argue that our planet has historically undergone periods of global warming and cooling.

Under the new rules, the 50 states will each determine how to meet customized targets set by the EPA. But it can be argued that the  negatives will far outweigh any potential positives in terms of reducing carbon emissions. For starters, Obama’s plan will further diminish the role of coal in U.S. electrical production. Thousands of good-paying jobs across the country will be jeopardized. Many will become unemployed at a time when our national recovery is still very fragile. Electric bills will rise for many Americans — further harming our national recovery. And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says the new rules will cost the national economy a whopping $50 billion.

All of this harm just to curtail the use of one of America’s most abundant fossil fuels. Let’s not forget that coal has powered our great nation for more than a century. And it was that metallurgic coal hauled from the Appalachian mountains that helped to stop Hitler’s war machine during World War II. And the same coal now so despised by our president also helped build the great skyscrapers that tower over America’s landscapes.

As he has done repeatedly in the past, Obama is bypassing Congress and tapping into executive powers with the new rules. And he’s relying upon the use of a 1970 law — The Clean Air Act — that was never intended to regulate gases blamed for global warming. If a state doesn’t comply with the new EPA guidelines, the federal government can now create its own plan for the state under the new rules. It was announced Monday that both West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe have already directed their environmental agencies to develop their own carbon emissions plans that consider the costs of compliance at individual  power plants.

In West Virginia, coal is still responsible for 96 percent of the state’s electrical generation.  And across the nation coal still powers 40 percent of the country’s electrical grid. But as coal-powered plants across the nation are closed, the Obama administration is increasingly relying upon green energy sources to replace our nation’s still abundant fossil fuels. In another words, more wind turbines and solar panels in our neighborhoods, homes and communities.

After seven long years of the Obama administration, should we really expect anything different from our commander in chief. Absolutely not. Once again the coalfields of West Virginia and Virginia are in the cross hairs of Washington. A new front has been launched in the war of coal. But we will survive this latest storm. We will endure. We will grow stronger as a region. And come 2016 we will have an opportunity to make a positive change in Washington.

God bless the great coalfields of southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia.

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