On Oct. 29, more than 30 members of Congress addressed several thousand pro-coal protestors on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol to voice their opposition to environmental regulations they say are putting the coal industry out of business.
Members of Congress — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) — urged the crowd to keep up the fight on the “war on coal,” stressing the vital role of coal mining in American cities.
The rally was sponsored by Count on Coal, an affiliate of the National Mining Association and it rally targeted recent regulations proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that place new limits on carbon-dioxide emissions for new coal and gas-fired power plants. As part of President Barrack Obama’s environmental agenda, utilities will only be able to build new coal-fired plants if they carbon capture technology that is still fledgling and considerably more expensive.
“Keep your regulatory hands off the throat of the coal mining industry and our coal mining jobs,” Rep. Mike Enzi (R-WY) said.
As part of his agenda, Obama has said he wants to cut U.S. carbon emissions by 17 percent in 2020 from 2005 levels. As 2014 midterm elections approach, the EPA’s regulations will be a key issue, particularly in swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania where the coal industry has a heavy presence, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The coal industry is responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs and provides cheap power to American consumers, speakers emphasized. “Coal keeps the lights on,” Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) said to a round of cheers. If the EPA’s proposed regulations continue, “everybody’s utility bills are going to go sky high,” he warned.
While the rally was going on, two House Science Committee panels held hearings on the EPA’s proposed regulations, questioning whether there is existing technology that would allow power plants to stay in line with the new standards. A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee also planned to hear from “coal communities” around the country.