Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

June 27, 2013

War on coal

Obama administration tightens its grip

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — Yes Virginia and West Virginia, there is a war on coal. And it is a war that is already having a crippling impact upon the coalfields of southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia.

If there was any lingering doubt about this war, and the barrage of unrealistic federal mandates aimed at paralyzing the coal industry, those questions have now been erased. In issuing a presidential memorandum Tuesday — and thus bypassing congressional action — President Barack Obama launched his most sweeping and troubling proposals to date aimed at limiting emissions from coal-fired power plants while boosting renewable green energy policies.

On the same day as the president’s announcement, Daniel P. Schrag, a member of the presidential science panel that is helping to advise the White House on climate change, told The New York Times, “Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.”

What does Obama’s 21-page climate change action plan call for?

• The creation of new, tougher and unrealistic carbon emission standards, for both new and existing power plants.

• Reducing carbon pollution by 3 billion metric tons by 2030.

• Directing the federal government to permit enough renewable projects — mainly more wind turbines and solar panels — by 2020 to power more than six million additional homes.

• Directing agencies to support local climate-resilient investments by removing barriers or counter-producting policies. What does this mean for Tazewell County’s ban on wind turbines along East River Mountain?

• Awarding a whopping $8 billion in federal loans to spur investment in technologies that can keep carbon dioxide produced by power plants from being released into the atmosphere. That sounds like another pork-heavy stimulus package to us.

Are all of the above proposals bad ideas. Absolutely not. We should be doing more to protect our environment. But Obama’s approach is both perplexing and wrong. When the executive branch can bypass Congress, and mandate impossible-to-meet standards clearly aimed at crippling a specific industry, something is clearly amiss with our great nation.

Area lawmakers were largely unanimous in their opposition to Obama’s far-reaching plan. And they are thankfully vowing to fight it.

U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said the climate change plan is misguided, and could cost millions of jobs. Rahall says it also puts the energy security of America at risk by unfairly locking away fuels that still power our nation. He correctly warns that Obama’s plan will cause energy bills to skyrocket for all.

U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., says Obama’s plan constitutes a war on Southwest Virginia. “What it means for our region is the destruction of our economy,” Griffith said. “And what really bothers me is there is a better way. We have had a number of breakthroughs in clean coal technology. But that has not been the administration’s focus. It ought to be the administration’s focus.”

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., adds, “It’s clear now that the president has declared a war on coal. It’s simply unacceptable that one of the key elements of his climate change proposal places regulations on coal that are completely impossible to meet with existing technology.”

Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, warns the new federal standards will drive manufacturing jobs out of America, kill coal mining jobs, force more power plants to close and cause electric bills to skyrocket for all of America.

Need we say more.