Last Updated:November 28 @ 07:44 am

Kerpen: A Senate Referendum on Obama's War on Coal

By Phil Kerpen

If you've been understandably focused on the increase in prices at the pump, it's time to focus on another pending energy policy disaster that will hit your electric bill soon: the Obama administration's War on Coal. After cap-and-trade failed, the administration's fallback plan has been a relentless regulatory assault on our most abundant domestic energy resource. The U.S. Senate will finally have a chance to do something about it, possibly as soon as this week.

Remember Al Armendariz, the EPA bureaucrat who resigned for admitting he likes to crucify oil and gas companies? He was assigned to Texas and Louisiana to obstruct oil and gas production. What's happening to coal is even more extreme, and now EPA bureaucrat Curt Spalding, assigned to New England, let slip what the most recent power plant regulations are really about.

"If you want to build a coal plant you got a big problem. That was a huge decision," Spalding said. "You can't imagine how tough that was," he continued, "because you got to remember if you go to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and all those places, you have coal communities who depend on coal. And to say that we just think those communities should just go away, we can't do that."

Spalding didn't realize he was being taped saying exactly what he wasn't supposed to say! In Washington they call it a gaffe. Everywhere else it's referred to simply as "the truth."

Obama himself made the same mistake in 2008, when he accidentally revealed his true views to the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board. He told them his plan would make electricity prices "necessarily skyrocket" and ensure that "if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can — it's just that it will bankrupt them."

As Spalding made clear, the Obama administration is well aware that its War on Coal will destroy whole communities. In fact, the economic devastation will also extend beyond coal communities, because forced retirements of coal plants will raise electricity prices all over the country. Just one of the many anti-coal rules, Utility MACT, by itself is expected to raise electric bills for homes and businesses more than 20 percent in the Midwest.

While at times accidentally forthright about bankrupting coal, Obama and his Senate allies have more often tried to play make-believe, claiming these regulations are "for the children" — even though in the 22 years the EPA has studied the issue they have failed to identify a single child whose disability was the result of prenatal mercury exposure.

Up to now senators from coal-producing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania and states that are heavily reliant on coal-fired power plants like Michigan, Missouri, and Montana have tried to avoid taking sides in Obama's War on Coal.

That won't last much longer. Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe will soon force a vote on S. J. Res. 37, which would overturn one of the most costly anti-coal regulations, Utility MACT. It's a key test vote for each United States Senator to signal to voters whether they are for or against Obama's War on Coal. And therefore whether they are for or against making electricity prices "necessarily skyrocket," destroying tens of thousands of jobs, and telling coal communities to just go away.

With few meaningful Senate votes expected this year in a Senate that hasn't bothered to even pass a budget in over three years, this is a vote citizens should watch closely — and keep in mind in November.


Mr. Kerpen is the president of American Commitment and the author of "Democracy Denied."

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  1. gilbertengamerComment by gilbertengamer
    June 11, 2012 @ 9:56 am

    Claiming these Regulations are for the Children is a good route to go from a political standpoint, but for the Children will not be able to account for how this particular war on coal will soon the the culprit of why whole communities will not be able to feed theirs. I understand the need to be on the more progressive side of energy policy, but as it is now, over 30% of US home still rely on coal as an energy source and moreover a larger number rely on as a part of their economy ( Stripping this away without some sort of real tranisition period will come as a major blow to a number of communities where this is their life blood.

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  2. cxComment by genesal
    June 11, 2012 @ 10:03 am

    Obama is doing everything in his power to stomp out jobs. Why do people think he’s doing a good job?
    How many people will have to choose between eating or freezing. They treat the spotted owl better than their constituents. Go home Kenyan!

    Time to stand up and say ‘Enough is enough and we won’t take it anymore’!

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  3. JDZComment by JDZ
    June 11, 2012 @ 10:09 am

    This administration is so beholding to special interests that it has basically lost its way and the special interest group that is having the most negative impact on the American people during this extended economic mess are the environmentalists. These zealot “greenies” have taken control of the DOE, and especially the EPA, and are the drivers in the war on the use of fossil fuels (which are the backbone of our energy sources).

    The Obama administration is so politically motivated that they have lost touch with reality and are creating fundamental problems at the lowest levels of our communities. It is a shame. I am originally from West Virginia and this war on coal is going to have a broadbased negative impact on the citizens of that state that is totally insane. Where is the compassion of this administration when they are going to purposely kill the prime mover of the economy in that state without any replacement strategy. It is like taking food off of the table of children who are barely surviving to start with, and leaving them to starve.

    Of all of the questionable policies of the Obama administration, and there are many, their approach to our national energy needs may be the one creating the most damage across the board as it is the most pervasive. This “war on coal” is just a part of the moves of the administration relative to our use of fossil fuels. Look at how they have “slow walked” the approval of new oil leases and have stopped the Keystone pipeline in its tracks. They have also made the investment in new nuclear energy power plants much harder and more expensive, and are trying to find ways to stop natural gas and oil recovery through the use of “fracking”.

    This administration is demonstrating a “war” on the average citizen in this country in that everything they are doing is making the cost of living in this country go up. When energy sources are being manipulated as they are, the cost of transportation and utilities goes up which drives the cost of everything…EVERYTHING.. we need to live go up.

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  4. rolandd1Comment by rolandd1
    June 11, 2012 @ 11:09 am

    What can I say, the whole administration suffers from lunacy.

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    • billwvComment by billwv
      June 11, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

      Amen to that Rolandd1. I’ll bet when the vote actually comes down in the Senate a lot of the ‘good ole boys’ will not be affected by the [lunacy]; especially if they want to keep their jobs.

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  5. MustLiveFreeComment by MustLiveFree
    June 11, 2012 @ 11:43 am

    If Obama and the EPA had been around a couple of hundred thousand years ago, they would have banned fire.

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  6. CharlieComment by vietnamvet
    June 11, 2012 @ 1:19 pm

    In Inhofe can ‘force’ a vote on this, why can’t Republicans ‘force’ votes on other important issues?

    What is this mechanism for side-stepping Ried?

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    • middlegroundComment by middleground
      June 11, 2012 @ 3:20 pm

      The 2012 election!

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    • nmleonComment by nmleon
      June 11, 2012 @ 5:17 pm

      The bill has support from enough Dem Senators to tie Dingy Harry’s hands.

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  7. Pingback: Networks Ignore Obama's War on Coal, But Papers Find Him Unpopular In 'Coal Country'|PolitifreakPolitifreak

  8. Pingback: Networks Ignore Obama's War on Coal, But Papers Find Him Unpopular In 'Coal Country'|PolitifreakPolitifreak

  9. bobnipComment by bobnip
    June 11, 2012 @ 3:33 pm

    Deep water drilling in the gulf: -35,000 jobs

    Coal Industry: -30,000 jobs

    Beef Industry:-15,000 jobs

    Oil exploration on American soil: -20,000 jobs

    Small businesses closing their doors: ????? jobs (But, we know it is happening at the fastest rate in history.)

    Shall I keep going? The truth is Obama stands fullface in front of the American people and announces “the private sector is fine.” Meanwhile, he and his cronies are doing everything conceavable to destroy capitalism and our free market system. This evil monster needs to be stopped!

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  10. Pingback: Networks Ignore Obama’s War on Coal, But Papers Find Him Unpopular In ‘Coal Country’

  11. Pingback: Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania Swing States / Coal States / Obama’s war on coal | Pitts Report

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