President Obama’s new regulations on power plant carbon emissions shows he doesn’t care about the coal industry, according to a coal country member of Congress, but he says there is a realistic way to stop the measures from ever taking effect that makes this year’s midterms elections pivotal in the energy debate.
Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, announced new rules that will force fossil fuel-based power plants to reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2030. The policy is a central piece of Obama’s former “Cap and Trade” agenda that failed to pass a Democrat-run U.S. Senate four years ago. The administration is now advancing the policy through the executive branch.
Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., represents coal-rich southwestern Virginia. He said these rules would be devastating for his district and many others in a nation that gets at least 40 percent of it’s electricity from coal. Griffith said the president just made it very clear how little he regards the coal industry.
“I don’t think the administration really cares about the coal industry, and I think they disregard a lot of facts when it comes to how this will impact middle-class Americans,” he said. “They have shown a callous disregard for the folks in central Appalachia, the area that I represent and others.
“It just doesn’t seem that they care. Their numbers are almost always wrong. They told us when they did another set of regulations relating to coal usage in utilities that we would lose around 10 megawatts of power capacity. We’ve actually lost about 62 by the end of this year. It’s going to impact our grid and our grid system.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va.:
Griffith said there is no current technology to allow coal-based power plants to meet the new standards. He believes the advancement of technology could make it possible in 10-15 years. However, he said that doesn't help anyone right now, because the rules require states to have a plan in place within two years as to how they will reduce their emissions, and states cannot rely on technology that does not exist yet.
He believes prioritizing the development of cleaner burning of coal is a smarter way for Washington to proceed.
"That makes a lot of sense," Griffith said. "Pushing these regulations before the science is ready does not make sense. It's illogical, and it's going to hurt middle-class America."
The congressman said the coal industry would feel the initial pain from the rules, but a huge percentage of Americans would be negatively impacted.
"We will have less electricity available, and there's going to be greater costs as companies go to build new facilities to try to meet these new demands on carbon dioxide," Griffith said. "It's going to be very difficult for American families to pay those increased electric bills. It's going to be hard on American industry, so it's going to cost jobs and hurt middle-class families."
The debate continues to rage over the science behind the administration's push for its climate agenda. Griffith said before we even get into the academic issues, its fairly clear that unilateral action by the United States is guaranteed to accomplish nothing.
"You don't even have to get into the fight on the science. What you look at is this: Is the rest of the world going to do the same thing?" Griffith asked. "If the rest of the world doesn't do the same thing, what we're doing is killing jobs in the United States and sending those jobs to the rest of the world. They continue to use coal without even the reasonable regulations we had in effect before this administration took over.
"It's a worldwide situation, and if all we're doing is shifting the jobs to Asia, they're going to ship us back dirty air in exchange for the jobs we have lost."
So what recourse do opponents have since these rules are being implemented through the executive branch and not after a debate in Congress? A pretty effective one, according to Griffith. He said the midterm election results will be the deciding factor.
"Hopefully we'll win elections and take over the Senate," he said. "There are some Democrats who agree with us, but there are only a few. When we get control of the Senate, we then have the power to set aside regulations with a majority vote of the House and the Senate. That's what we need to do, and the American people need to understand that elections have consequences. If they don't want to see jobs lost and electric rates skyrocketing, then we need to change the Senate. To change Washington, we need to change the Senate."
The congressman noted that approval from the president is not required to set aside regulations, so majorities on both sides of Capitol Hill could act on their own.