The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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June 26, 2013

Obama’s newest attack on coal draws stinging rebuke from many

BECKLEY — “Misguided, misinformed and untenable policy.”

And that from a Democrat on Capitol Hill — 3rd District Congressman Nick Rahall — in a stinging rebuke Tuesday of President Obama’s latest assault on the coal industry.

Rahall and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., rarely on the same side of an issue, teamed up to blast Obama for insisting on more stringent regulations to combat what he perceives as “climate change,” a theory that has divided the scientific community.

In remarks on the Georgetown University campus, Obama disclosed he had directed the first-ever federal regulations on heat-trapping gases emitted by new and existing power plants, declaring, “As a president, as a father, and as an American, I’m here to say we need to act.”

Obama scorned his critics, adding, “We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat-earth society.”

With his remarks, West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney said Obama had tossed aside the strides of generations of coal miners.

“By announcing imminent restrictions on carbon emissions from power plants that exceed the capabilities of current technology, this adminstration will impose bureaucratic mandates with no regard for the people and communities of West Virginia that depend on coal and the inexpensive energy it creates for their very existence and survival,” Raney said.

“Make no mistake, this adminstration’s new climate initiative will negatively impact West Virginia coal jobs, result in higher electric bills for consumers and businesses and lead to America’s economic disarmament via U.S. manufacturing jobs relocating to other nations.”

Rahall charged that the president is jeopardizing America’s energy security, along with millions of jobs, while pushing utility bills through the ceiling.

“Locking away the fuels that power our nation behind ideologically imposed barriers will drive up costs for nearly every business and manner of industrial activity while driving jobs overseas,” he said.

If Obama were indeed serious about lowering carbon emissions and spurring economic growth, he should refrain from “crippling regulations” until a practical way is found to be in compliance, Rahall said.

Rahall said technology could be developed while working in tandem with the industry, then exported across the world, where 80 percent of carbon emissions occur.

“But instead, by choosing to travel the uncompromising path he laid out today, leaving energy producers without any realistic means to comply with whims of Washington bureaucrats, he is sowing the seeds for a less competitive nation,” he added.

Another Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin, said Obama’s regulations are neither feasible nor reasonable.

“It’s clear now that the president has declared a war on coal,” he said.

“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.”

With Department of Energy estimates showing 3 percent of the nation’s energy will be derived from coal through 2040, the removal of coal will produce “disastrous consequences” for the economy, he said.

“These policies punish American businesses by putting them at a competitive disadvantage with our global competitors,” Manchin said.

“And those competitors burn seven-eighths of the world’s coal, and they’re not going to stop any time soon.”

Capito said the president is bent on shutting down the coal  industry, proving just how “out of touch” he is with reality.

“President Obama failed to get his environmental agenda through Congress for a reason,” she said.

“Today’s announcement is another move in the president’s tyrannical game of picking winners and losers in the energy industry. Instead of supporting an all-of-the-above plan, President Obama’s devastating regulations will shut down existing coal plants and halt the development of clean coal technology facilities.”

“Despite common sense and the voice of Congress, it appears he will unilaterally forge ahead with his partisan agenda.”

West Virginia Republican President Conrad Lucas called Obama’s actions  “one of the final acts of a lame duck grasping for relevance in a nation losing patience with his failure.”

“This war on coal is a war on you, our families and all of us,” Lucas said.

“This is America. We burn coal, we light this nation, we build things here.”

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, likewise, castigated the president, saying his plan would plunge the state “into an abyss of poverty, putting thousands of jobs at risk and putting the state’s budget in jeopardy.”

Morrisey served notice his office would examine “every word of every line of every page of these devastating policies” to see how West Virginia can challenge the president.

“These regulations, if left unchecked, will doom West Virginia to continue on its cycle of poverty,” the attorney general said.

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com

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