Friday, September 21, 2012

House Passes "Stop The War On Coal Act"; Other Bills Languish

Sep 21: [Editor's Note: Although the U.S. House of Representatives spent two and a half hours this morning passing the "Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012" which has no chance of passage in the Senate and would be vetoed if it reached the President's desk; it could not find time to address the critically needed Farm Bill which has widespread support of Democrats, Republicans, the President, business, farmers and environmental and conservation groups].
    H.R.3409, the Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012, which had the strong support of House Republican leadership, was approved by a vote of 233-175. Nineteen Democrats joined 214 Republicans in passing the measure. On September 20, the White House issued a policy statement indicating that, "If the President is presented with this legislation, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill" [See WIMS 9/20/12]. The House action is the last major action until after the Presidential election in the lame-duck session.
    House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released a statement applauding House passage of the bill saying, "President Obama's war on coal claimed another 1,200 jobs this week, adding to the thousands of others that have been wiped out by an administration determined to put an end to coal-fired energy in America and ship the jobs that come with it overseas. 

    "At the same time that President Obama claims to support Republicans' all-of-the-above energy policy, his administration is unleashing a barrage of excessive red tape that is shutting down power producers and mining operations, and devastating the families and communities that depend on them. These regulations mean fewer jobs and higher energy costs for all Americans, who are already paying the price for President Obama's failed energy policies on everything from gas to groceries. 

    "Today, the House again stepped up to stop President Obama's war on coal by passing legislation that reins in the administration's most damaging new energy regulations and holds them accountable for the economic impact of several others.  The Stop the War on Coal Act joins nearly 40 other bipartisan, House-passed energy and jobs bills that Senate Democrats continue blocking. President Obama has an opportunity to lead by calling on Senate Democrats to pass all of these bills to promote American energy, protect jobs, and help our economy get moving again."

    House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) said, "President Obama has spent his entire term waging a regulatory war of red-tape and government mandates on coal miners, coal jobs and the millions of people who rely on low-cost coal-fired electricity. Just one of this Administration's most egregious regulatory attacks on American coal production will destroy thousands of jobs and inflict economic harm on over twenty other states. Without the passage of the Stop the War on Coal Act, those job losses and thousands of others will become reality for hardworking coal miners and their families across the country as a record number of coal plants will be forced to close over the coming years."

    Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) said, "Today, with bipartisan support, the House of Representatives took an important step forward in stopping one of President Obama's most economically destructive policies with the passage of the Stop the War on Coal Act. President Obama's war on coal is real and it is already costing jobs. Just this week, Alpha Natural Resources announced that it is laying off 1,200 workers in three states. These layoffs come just weeks after Murray Energy announced that it would be closing its mine in Brilliant, Ohio putting more hardworking miners in the unemployment lines. Both companies cite excessive government overregulation as the main reason for these layoffs. The Stop the War on Coal Act is common sense legislation that protects coal jobs from these destructive regulations that have put the heavy boot of an out of control federal regulatory bureaucracy on the neck of the coal industry. Protecting America's coal industry and the jobs that go with it is part of the a true 'all of the above' approach to energy production that creates jobs, lowers energy prices, and takes America one step closer to energy independence. Coal is critical to powering America, and I will always fight to END President Obama's assault on hardworking Americans who work in the coal industry and the many businesses that depend upon the reliable, cost effective energy that coal provides."

    House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said, "Today, the House took a stand for jobs, families, and affordable energy. On Tuesday this week, we learned of Alpha Natural Resources will be closing 8 mines and laying off 1200 workers. I met with the Alpha CEO shortly after the announcement, and he lamented the administration's regulatory assault on coal. Sadly, the list of layoffs goes on because of the administration's 'all of the above, but nothing from below,' energy policy. Coal is the cornerstone of our economy -- estimates suggest that every mining job creates an additional 3.5 jobs. We are electricity independent -- and we want to stay that way."

    Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said he welcomed the passage the bill. He said, "I applaud the bipartisan House passage of the 'Stop the War on Coal Act.' Over the past four years we have witnessed an unrelenting attack by the Obama administration on American energy production -- one that has resulted in lost jobs, higher energy prices, and lessened energy security. Today's decisive achievement in the House stands in stark contrast to the stalling and inaction of the Senate. Many of my Senate colleagues have talked at length about unleashing American energy production and reining in the Obama-EPA, but when the opportunity arises to do so they hide behind cover votes. As these Senators head home to hit the campaign trail, their record is clear and excuses only go so far: thanks to many of them, the far-left polices of the Obama-EPA remain unchecked and will go forward harming American families with higher energy prices and lost jobs."

    The White House veto warning statement on the bill indicated, "H.R. 3409, for example, would block landmark Clean Air Act public health regulations, such as the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, which would reduce harmful air pollution that threatens public health, especially the health of children and seniors. . . would block the recently-finalized National Program of fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for Model Year 2017-2025 cars and light trucks. . .  would roll back the provisions of the Clean Water Act that have underpinned 40 years of progress. . ."

    Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee issued a lengthy release saying, "Closing out the most unproductive and anti-environmental Congress in modern history, House Republicans today passed one last giveaway to the fossil fuel industries that are flooding money into GOP campaign coffers and election advertisements." He decried "the bill and Republican attacks on the free market, on clean energy, and on our environment."
    Rep. Markey said, "House Republicans now leave town with the worst environmental record in history, and without extending the Production Tax Credit for wind, which will raise taxes on the wind industry by up to $4 billion and eliminate 40,000 American wind jobs. Republicans have been so busy manufacturing fake wars on coal and oil that they've missed the real American energy revolution in natural gas, wind, solar and other cleaner, cheaper forms of energy. Republicans are saying they aren't going to worry about the 44 percent of our electricity that comes from the natural gas, hydropower and clean energy industries, just like their standard-bearer at the top of the ticket won't worry about 47 percent of Americans. This bill doesn't create an American energy strategy, it's just an election strategy for Republicans.
    "The Republican 'Polluterpalooza' bill passed today would: --Let coal companies off the hook to safely dispose and store the coal ash that results from burning coal and dump mining waste in streams and rivers; --Repeal the fuel economy standards that will save oil and money; --Increase the levels of toxic mercury, lead and cancer-causing toxins in our air by gutting the Clean Air Act; and
--Overturn Clean Water Act protections by eliminating EPA's ability to apply minimum federal water quality standards."
    Rep. Markey also indicated that House Republicans rejected several Democratic amendments, including: --An amendment by Rep. Markey to set a 25 percent renewable energy standard by 2035; --An amendment by Rep. Markey to protect Americans from additional heart, lung or other diseases resulting from the increase in dangerous pollution from this bill; --An amendment by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) to erase language in the GOP bill that denies the fundamental science of climate change; --An amendment by Rep. Markey to protect any efforts [or] any EPA action to reduce American oil dependence, like fuel economy standards.

    Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, issued a statement saying, "Republicans in the House of Representatives today launched yet another contemptible assault on Americans' health and well-being. In a sweeping, scorched-earth campaign, they are seeking to lay waste to numerous public health protections critical to ensuring that American families have safe air and clean water. This bill is a shameless, reckless and deadly assault on key safeguards Americans count on every day. On their way out the door from one of the least productive sessions of the U.S. House in history, Congressional Republicans proved once and for all that they hold the interests of dirty, outdated fossil fuel companies above those of everyday Americans."

    Earthjustice Vice President of Policy and Legislation Marty Hayden said, "Instead of offering legislation that would bolster our economy or create jobs for hard-working Americans, our leaders in Congress are pushing a toxic bill that comes at the cost of public health and our most basic and long-held environmental protections. House leaders seem to think that the only way to put people back to work is to give polluters free rein to poison our water, air and natural resources. Not only does this bill fail to create jobs but it exposes Americans to dangerous pollutants that cause sickness and cancer. This wrongheaded initiative is a recipe for disaster for public health and our economy. The House majority is clearly out-of-touch with the serious concerns Americans have about their health and the economy. It's time for our leaders to drop the political warfare and instead work on making America more competitive and secure by investing in clean energy industries that will define the future."

    House Democratic leaders held a press conference on the Capitol steps and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, "As you can see, Democrats are proudly standing on the steps of the Capitol saying we must stay here until we take action to help the American people. We are prepared to stay in session to pass President Obama's jobs bill, which can create more than one million new jobs immediately, pass a five year farm bill -- 16 million agricultural jobs depend on it, extend middle income tax cuts to provide certainty for millions of Americans and help our economy. And to pass a comprehensive and balanced bill to address our fiscal concerns -- to say to the world that we can get the job done, that we can work in a cooperative manner to reduce the deficit, to create growth, to create jobs. We're here standing together to recognize that since August 3rd, when Congress adjourned, and November 14th, when we're being called back into session, we will have been in session only eight days. That's just not right.  Democrats are prepared to stay until we get the job done." Other members also delivered statements (see link below).

    Access the roll call vote (click here). Access the statement from Speaker Boehner (click here). Access a release from Reps. Hastings and Johnson (click here). Access a release from Rep. Upton (click here). Access the statement from Sen. Inhofe (click here). Access the statement from Rep. Markey with further information (click here). Access a release from Sierra Club (click here). Access the statement from Earthjustice (click here). Access the a release from the House Democratic Leaders (click here). Access the Statement of Administration Policy (click here). Access legislative details for H.R.3409 (click here). Access a House Democratic summary of the bill (click here). Access a House Republican summary of the bill (click here). [#Energy, #Water, #Air]
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