Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

September 22, 2012

Stop the War on Coal

House passes five bills to help W.Va. industry

CHARLESTON — The U.S. House of Representatives passed a group of five bills collectively referred to as H.R. 3409, and known informally as the “Stop the War on Coal Act,” on Friday. The passed the bill with a 233 to 175 vote.

“It took some time, but it’s done,” Jason Bostic, vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association said. “This bill now becomes our main focus in the Senate as we move forward.”

H.R. 3409 is made up of five separate bills including the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act, a bill introduced in 2011 by U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va. In addition, other provisions of the Stop the War on Coal Act include provisions to prevent the Interior Department from instituting new regulations that would eliminate coal mining jobs, language that would push back EPA Clean Air Act regulations and more.

“The (Environmental Protection Agency) has run roughshod over my state and others in central Appalachia to impose its own ideological agenda,” Rahall was quoted in a news release concerning H.R. 3409. “It usurped the legal authorities of other federal agencies. It brazenly misused and abused its regulatory powers to put a stranglehold on coal mine permitting.”

U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., was also among the 233 House members who voted for H.R. 3409. “It’s important that the American people are made aware of the fact that this assault, though aimed at the coal industry, affects us all,” Griffith was quoted as stating in a press release. “When coal jobs are cut, the people who supply materials to the           coal mines, the people who operate the trains, that carry the coal, and the people who work in the ports that ship the coal are all impacted.

“Current EPA regulations for coal-fired power plants are not even commercially available today and are threatening to send our electricity rates skyrocketing,” Morgan was quoted as stating.

Bostic took a more philosophical look at the House’s action on Friday. “I think this vote that attempts to control the EPA and the Office of Surface Mining shows that these agencies are unworthy of the public trust.

“The EPA has been trampling the states rights in the process,” Bostic said. “Our charge, as the Coal Association, is to protect our industry from the regulatory coma that that is holding our industry back.” He expressed the fear that if that situation persists, the coal industry’s infrastructure may experience challenges similar to the problems that crippled the U.S. steel industry several years ago.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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