A parting shot in the war on coal

posted at 8:31 am on September 22, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

The least busy Congress in recent memory has taken flight yet again, this time until the election. But before hitting the bricks, the House managed to sneak through one final vote.

In the ongoing effort to protect jobs and affordable energy, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R.3409, the Stop the War on Coal Act. The legislative package passed the full House with bipartisan support by a vote of 233 to 175. This important jobs and energy package, sponsored by Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), includes key measures advanced by the Energy and Commerce Committee: the Energy Tax Prevention Act, the TRAIN Act, and the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act. The legislation also includes important measures advanced by the Natural Resources Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“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,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “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.”

Of course, we shouldn’t get too excited over the idea that anything will be happening any time soon. The prevailing view of opponents was that it was simply eleventh hour electioneering to deliver a quick shot across the President’s bow before the debates. Of course, these same people – primarily Democrats and their supporters – took time out before heading to the airports for the same thing.

Over in the Democratic Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., delayed that chamber’s getaway to force a procedural vote on legislation by endangered Democrat Jon Tester of Montana to boost access to public lands for hunting and fishing. Republicans protested that the move was nakedly political and had tried to block it.

The sad truth is that the Stop the War on Coal Act has no chance of getting through the Senate and the president would simply veto it anyway. (At least with the current occupants of the White House and the Senate leadership.) So the layoffs currently taking place at Alpha Natural Resources and their subsequent losses on the market will still take place. This pattern is being repeated across places like Ohio and Pennsylvania, but if there is help in sight, it’s not coming soon.


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