Obama Gives Coal Miners the Shaft

by CLIFF KINCAID April 10, 2012

The notion that President Obama is trying to fire up his "base," as he prepares for a re-election campaign, raises the question of what constitutes his base. It is becoming increasingly clear that the "workers" he is supposedly concerned about are going to be dismissed or ignored so that wealthy environmental groups can be accommodated.

Consider the words of Cecil Roberts, president of the powerful United Mine Workers, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, after EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson made a ruling against coal plants. "The Navy SEALs shot Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan and Lisa Jackson shot us in Washington," Roberts said. Those who missed the news about Jackson shutting down coal plants through executive branch rules and regulations may have been unprepared for the Roberts assault. It was a big story for the media but framed in a way that played down the significance of what is taking place.

"For New Generation of Power Plants, a New Emission Rule From the E.P.A." was the misleading headline over the story in The New York Times. Much more is at stake than just a "new emission rule" that is somehow supposed to affect global warming.

West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, put it another way, saying the EPA "is fully engaging in a war on coal..." Manchin went on, "this ill-advised proposal to prevent new coal-fueled generation will move this country away from using all our domestic resources, and I will fight it every step of the way."

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson is an environmental zealot who advocates "eco-justice." In 2010, she received a copy of a "Green Bible" from the liberal National Council of Churches. Her mission is to wage war on the fossil fuel industry in order to build what she calls a "green economy." She is scheduled to speak at the upcoming Conference on the Scientific, Religious, and Cultural Implications of Global Warming, sponsored by the National Religious Coalition on Creation Care. Jackson received the group's "Steward of God's Creation award."

Before becoming the EPA Administrator, Jackson served as chief of staff to New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine, who also served as a New Jersey senator before running the MF Global financial group, now embroiled in scandal and corruption over $1.2 billion in missing money.   Jackson had been appointed by Corzine to be commissioner of the state's Department of Environmental Protection in 2006.

Jackson's attack on the coal industry will help China and other U.S. competitors. Although the United States is considered the Saudi Arabia of coal because data show that U.S. currently has the world's largest coal reserve, America is far behind China in terms of coal production and will fall even further behind because of the new EPA regulations.

On the West Virginia Metro News Talkline radio show, Roberts made his hard-hitting remarks, which have shaken the Obama Administration. In addition to his statement, "The Navy SEALs shot Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and Lisa Jackson shot us in Washington," he said:

  • "Coal is the fastest growing energy source in the world and they've decided, at the EPA, well, we're going to control what goes into the atmosphere worldwide by halting the construction of coal fired facilities in the United States."
  • "It doesn't work, for one thing, and, the second thing, it is just devastating for our economy."
  • "You have to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions throughout the world. You can't just regulate them through the EPA of the United States."

The Soros-funded blog, Think Progress, called Roberts' statements "preposterous," a fascinating reaction that suggests that Obama is prepared to throw the mine workers down the shaft.  The purpose of Think Progress, an unofficial arm of the White House, is to punish anyone-even Democrats-who speak ill of the President or his policies.

Our media failed, perhaps deliberately so, to explain the real significance of what the EPA was doing. The Washington Post headline about the EPA moving against coal was, "EPA imposes first greenhouse gas limits on new power plants." This story by Juliet Eilperin actually quoted some "advocacy groups" as saying that the EPA proposal was "too weak."

As noted by the Post, the EPA claimed the new EPA rules and regulations would only affect new power plants. "The media were careful to repeat this claim too," noted a Wall Street Journal editorial. In fact, however, the paper says, "It isn't true...the rules will put old plants at risk because of another EPA program known as New Source Review."

It explains, "Whenever a plant upgrades-whether installing a new fan blade or replacing the proverbial toilet seat-it must comply with every rule on the books. So as a utility obeys the mercury rule, say, it will also be caught in the pincer movement of these new carbon performance standards. The green lobby knows this will slowly kill even current coal plants over time."

The EPA says the New Source Review "ensures that air quality is not significantly degraded from the addition of new and modified factories, industrial boilers and power plants," and that "advances in pollution control occur concurrently with industrial expansion."

The big news is not only that Democrats like Manchin and Roberts are rejecting the Obama policy, but that an Obama-appointed judge, Amy Berman Jackson, recently ruled that the EPA exceeded the agency's authority and violated federal law when it revoked a coal mining permit in Logan County, West Virginia.

In response, Manchin said, "I applaud our courts for stating clearly and unequivocally that a bureaucratic agency like the EPA cannot run the lives of hardworking Americans."

Another Democrat, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, issued the following statement regarding the Obama Administration's proposed EPA guidelines:

"This move by the EPA can lead to only one conclusion-the Obama administration is trying to end the use of coal as we know it. This regulation will devastate West Virginia and our region by reducing jobs and unnecessarily increasing the cost of power for our citizens. I will not stand for it. This latest announcement is yet another example of the EPA's inappropriate use of its regulatory authority to set policy for our country. Those decisions reside within the Congress, not an unelected bureaucracy. Even though a federal court last week told the EPA that it was acting beyond its power, the EPA continues to act beyond its authority and in a short-sighted manner that will hurt our economy and cost our country jobs. I will continue to vigorously defend our great state against the EPA's overreaching, ideologically-driven policies that threaten to kill coal. We should be working to make our country more energy independent and create jobs, not harm them."

All of this was predictable. "If someone wants to build a new coal-fired power plant they can, but it will bankrupt them because they will be charged a huge sum for all the greenhouse gas that's being emitted," then-candidate Obama said in 2008.

In a 2011 special election, Tomblin, then-acting governor, won with 49.47 percent of the vote to Republican businessman Bill Maloney's 47.14 percent. Maloney is running in West Virginia's May 8 primary against fellow Morgantown Republican Ralph William Clark for what he hopes will be a rematch with Tomblin this year.

"Earl Ray Tomblin supporter Barack Obama is doing exactly what he promised he would do: bankrupt the coal industry," Maloney says. "How many more job losses can West Virginia families take at the hands of Earl Ray Tomblin and Barack Obama?"

 

FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism. He can be contacted at cliff.kincaid@aim.org.



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