Kentuckians know by now that President Obama has declared a War on Coal. That’s clear from the 7,000 coal jobs that have been lost since 2009 when this president took office. Eastern Kentucky alone has already seen a three-percent loss in coal jobs in the first quarter of 2014.
But the new job-killing regulations from the president’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that were announced this week mark a new front in that war. If enacted, they would prove the single worst blow to Kentucky’s economy in modern times—and a dagger to the heart of the Commonwealth’s middle class.
The EPA’s new rules to regulate carbon emissions from Kentucky’s more than 15 existing coal-fired power plants amount to a massive energy tax. The president and his liberal allies claim it will heal the planet.
But Kentuckians remember well—this is the same president who promised, “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it.”
In reality, these EPA regulations will kill jobs and raise utility rates across the state while making the transmission of electricity less reliable. The regulations will affect Kentucky power plants that account for thousands of Kentucky jobs. These are good-paying jobs that provide health care, jobs that hard-working Kentuckians have relied on for decades—jobs this administration doesn’t seem to care about. In fact, when the EPA held 11 public meetings across the country in advance of these regulations, not one was closer than an eight-hour drive from Kentucky coal country.
What’s worse, the president’s national energy tax won’t have an appreciable effect on global carbon emissions anyway. President Obama’s last EPA director even said so: “U.S. action alone will not impact world CO2 levels.” That’s a quote from her.
This president wants to impose his national energy tax via executive order because he knows the representatives of the people in Congress would never vote for it. In fact, Congress already rejected a similar national energy tax that he tried to pass in his first term.
Kentuckians know that coal keeps the lights on. Former administrations more favorable to coal, such as the previous one which ended in 2009, actually saw an increase in Kentucky coal jobs. Unfortunately, under President Obama’s reign, that will never be a reality.
All that Kentucky coal miners and others that work in the coal industry want is a chance to provide for their families. But this administration has delivered a War on Coal, and on their livelihoods, just the same.
When the EPA refused to host any listening sessions near Kentucky, I hosted one myself in eastern Kentucky. Here’s what one miner said at that listening session—one that the Administration refused to attend: “Our biggest worries now are just trying to keep a roof over our heads [and] food on the table.”
Well, if this administration doesn’t hear that miner, and the many Kentuckians he speaks for, I do. That’s why I immediately responded to the EPA’s new regulations with my own legislation, the Coal Country Protection Act, to push back against the president’s extreme anti-coal scheme. Supported by the Kentucky Coal Association, my legislation would require that the following simple but important benchmarks be met before his rules take effect:
One, the Secretary of Labor would have to certify that the new rules would not generate loss of employment.
Two, the director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office would have to certify the rules would not result in any loss in American gross domestic product.
Three, the administrator of the Energy Information Administration would have to certify the rules would not increase electricity rates.
And four, the chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the president of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation would have to certify that electricity delivery would remain reliable.
That’s it. These requirements are just common sense. And yet, the U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, refused to allow a vote on my legislation. That’s a shame, because Kentucky families are counting on Congress to stand up to this president’s ideological attacks.
They don’t want to see a core component of the Bluegrass State’s economy laid to waste. They don’t want to see more coal miners put out of work. And they don’t want to see Kentucky’s energy rates—currently among the lowest in the country because of our abundance of coal—skyrocket.
I will continue to wage this fight against the War on Coal because Kentuckians deserve no less. The Obama Administration’s War on Coal can be and must be stopped.