EPA launches new attack on coal industry, electricity consumers

“President Barack Obama’s overbearing EPA is holding hostage thousands of coal-mining jobs in Appalachia in order to protect an insect that lives for a day.

The EPA claims that trading jobs for bugs is part of its proper oversight role, but the evidence suggests that politics are at play. Environmentalists are a very important voting bloc for the Democratic Party, and they earnestly believe that coal is evil, despite the fact that it generates half of the country’s electricity. That’s why President Obama promised, while campaigning for the Oval Office, to “bankrupt” the coal industry. He has since unleashed the EPA to fulfill that promise.  …

It started in June, when the EPA announced that it would use its veto powers under the Clean Water Act to hold up the permitting process for surface coal mining in the steep terrain of the Appalachian Mountains. This is the first time that the EPA has used these powers since the act was passed by Congress in 1970. Also, the EPA has waged a letter-writing campaign to state environmental officials warning them that their standard for water quality is insufficiently onerous for surface coal mining operations. Thus, the EPA has held up 79 permits.

These regulatory intrusions are unprecedented, so the EPA must have a good reason, right?

Wrong. In fact, the EPA is intervening on behalf of a bug.

Recent EPA research suggests that discharge from “fills” — piles of dirt and rock moved in the process of mining coal — hurts populations of mayflies, an insect that typically lives for less than a day. Other research suggests that populations of hardier insect species grow in the wake of the mayfly’s decline, but this doesn’t deter the EPA.

During testimony before the Senate last summer, John Pomponio, an EPA official with jurisdiction over surface-coal-mining permitting in Appalachia, said that it is “critical that EPA re-invigorate its oversight role” in light of the mayfly study.

In practice, a “re-invigorated oversight role” means that President Obama’s EPA has outlawed surface mining practices that had been acceptable for decades. In this business environment — beholden to capricious and arbitrary EPA rules — coal-mining companies can’t raise capital. After all, you can’t mine without a permit.  …

In the short term, people are losing their jobs.

There are more than 60,000 coal miners in Appalachia. Just this month, Consol Energy announced that it would lay off 500 workers at a West Virginia mine idled by the EPA’s actions. As such, antipathy for the EPA runs deep in coal country. Rallies this summer in West Virginia and Kentucky drew scores of thousands of miners and their families.

In the long term, electricity consumers are the big losers. Appalachian coal provides inexpensive fuel for power plants along the Ohio River. It’s the reason that Mid-Atlantic states have some of the cheapest electricity rates in the country.”  “Obama’s EPA Delivers a Lump of Coal to Appalachia

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