Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

July 28, 2013

Fighting for coal — W.Va. lawmakers heading to Washington

— Lawmakers on the state level can and should be actively fighting the Obama administration’s senseless war on coal. That’s why the long overdue announcement of a trip to Washington by a group of West Virginia lawmakers — all Democrats at that — is welcomed. The group will travel to Washington this week to express their concerns about the Obama administration’s controversial new EPA carbon regulations.   

 President Barack Obama issued a presidential memorandum in June — and thus bypassed congressional action — launching the first-ever federal regulations on carbon dioxide emitted by existing coal-fired power plants. The new regulations are expected to put more coal miners out of work, and result in more power plant closures.

State Democratic Chairman Larry Puccio told the Register-Herald in Beckley that the entourage, estimated at about 15 to 17 lawmakers, were financing the visit on their own, and not using taxpayer dollars. He said the group plans to send “one strong message that America has called on us to keep the lights on.”

The group also will be meeting with U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., while in Washington. Business, industry and labor representatives are expected to join the group as well, according to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

“This new directive to the EPA is another attempt by the Obama administration to end the use of coal as we know it,” Tomblin said in a statement last week. “Not only will this proposed regulation devastate West Virginia and the region by eliminating jobs for our citizens, it would unnecessarily increase the cost of power across the nation. West Virginians will not stand for it. This latest announcement is yet another example of the inappropriate use of regulatory authority to set policy for our country. These decisions reside within Congress, not a bureaucracy.”

West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney is applauding the effort, but also is reminding the Democrats who are leading the effort that their own political party has been calling the shots in the EPA’s war on coal.

“And you simply cannot let them off the hook just by simply meeting with them,” Raney said. “These regulations have been absolutely unacceptable and our people are suffering so bad. Our people that manage the mines are absolutely sickened by the way these policies are causing the Kanawha River plant to close, causing power plants across this country to close, and removing the domestic market.”

We agree. The lawmakers traveling to Washington next week must send a strong message. And it helps if that message is coming from members of the administration’s own political party.

Coal is still responsible for keeping the lights on in both West Virginia, and across America. We simply can not stop mining coal overnight and expect to immediately find another reliable, inexpensive energy source.

Instead, we should be working together toward achieving energy independence with the help of our own domestically abundant fossil fuels while also creating jobs — not killing them.

The more Democrats who are willing to stand up to the Obama administration and its job killing policies, the better our chances of stopping this foolish attack on coal.

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