POLITICO: Note to EPA: 'Coal' isn't a dirty word
Through the Environmental Protection Agency, Washington continues to push an anti-coal agenda. It amounts to an assault on an industry that employs more than 500,000 hardworking Americans and supplies nearly half of America’s electricity.
The EPA’s attempts to control climate change through regulation and stall the approval of mining permits can only lead to coal states like West Virginia bearing the brunt of poorly thought-out policies that translate into greater job loss and higher energy costs.
President Barack Obama is intent on passing legislation to cap greenhouse gas emissions. Should Congress fail to act, the EPA will exert its regulatory authority in an unprecedented manner that will have far-reaching effects on nearly every sector of the U.S. economy — from higher prices at the gas pump to skyrocketing utility bills.
The EPA cannot unilaterally set an agenda without the buy in of the American people. Decisions made by the EPA must take into account the real cost to families, their livelihoods and plans for the future.
West Virginia already is feeling the burden of excessive regulation with no consideration of our future.
In an effort to punish the coal industry, the EPA has essentially halted the review and approval of mining permits across the Appalachian region. Consequently, tens of thousands of jobs in my state and across the country are at risk because the EPA has been purposefully slow to act.
According to a recent study by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s minority staff, the Appalachian region could lose one-fourth of its coal-mining jobs if the EPA continues its delay tactics. Workers in the transportation, equipment manufacturing and utility industries will also see a reduction in demand if the coal industry is dismantled.
With national unemployment still hovering around 10 percent, and no relief in sight, families can ill afford to lose these good-paying jobs.
We absolutely cannot afford a scenario where delayed policy decisions lead to a slow bleed of jobs and planned investment throughout America’s coal country. Energy producers expect and deserve certainty and clarity to conduct their business, but the current administration continues to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to their concerns.
We all agree that we must pass an energy policy that respects our environment and produces energy in an environmentally friendly way. But we also must encourage job growth, economic prosperity and innovation in energy technology.
The out-of-control regulation authority will cost American jobs, increase energy prices and threaten our national security. We must all work to end our dependence on foreign oil and expand our energy sources, and that starts with taking advantage of resources that are affordable and abundant right here in America.
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) is co-founder of the Congressional Coal Caucus.