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Republicans shoot back in the ‘war on coal’

Congressional Republicans are turning up the heat this week in an effort to head off EPA regulations and stop the Obama administration’s “war on coal,” voting on a package of five bills that would curb EPA regulatory authority and environmental rules.

“Affordable energy is critical for our nation’s economic future,” said Kansas Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo, one of the leading critics of President Obama’s coal policies.

“President Obama’s War on Coal means fewer jobs and higher energy costs for Americans. Coal is a critical component to our nation’s energy future, and I am proud to support this legislation that will help preserve this vital energy source for future generations,” Pompeo continued.

The Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012 contains a bundle of provisions which the House has already passed.

One provision prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions and restricts planned EPA rules regarding coal ash disposal and management.

The bill also restricts the Interior Department from issuing regulations regarding surface mining operations and limits the EPA’s ability to veto permits issued under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, while also promoting the cooperation between the federal government and the states regarding water pollution controls.

“The heavy-handed regulatory regime championed by this Administration and EPA is strangling the economy, driving up energy prices for consumers, and putting people out of work,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica, a Florida Republican who sponsored one of the provisions included in the bill.

“This common sense bill will protect jobs and lower energy costs by ensuring the reasonable regulation of a critical industry and energy resource in this country,” Mica added.

The coal industry has been hit hurt by low natural gas prices and environmental regulations. The Energy Information Administration estimates that a record-breaking 175 coal-fired generators will be shut down this year, with more shutdowns to come in the following years as well.

The regulatory cost of EPA’s actions is also staggeringly high for coal-fired plants. Two studies reviewed by the Government Accountability Office put the annual costs of just four major EPA regulations between $16 billion and $21 billion over the coming years.

The bill, however, still has to make it through the Senate which could prove difficult as the Senate has not approved any of the past measures to rein in the EPA regulations, according to Bloomberg.

Both presidential candidates have expressed support for coal, as key battleground states like Ohio and Pennsylvania are coal reliant states and have been seeing EPA action drive layoffs and shutdowns of coal mines.

However, the Obama campaign only added clean coal to its website after a convicted felon and prison inmate got 41 percent of the Democratic primary vote in West Virginia.

The House is expected to vote on the bill this Friday, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said that this week will be the last work session before the November elections since the likelihood of the Senate passing the continuing resolution would make work in October unnecessary.

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