President Obama's latest push to curb greenhouse gas emissions has brought a new round of criticism from both sides of the aisle. Twenty-two House members, including Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., sent a letter to Obama asking him to end his "war on coal," specifically his New Source Performance Standards that he proposed during his June 25 climate speech at Georgetown University.
The NSPS issued by the Environmental Protection Agency are meant to limit greenhouse gas emissions for new and existing coal-fired power plants, despite Congress' repeated votes against such regulations.
"Circumventing the will of Congress, which has repeatedly voted against carbon regulations, taxes and cap and trade, this speech directs [the Environmental Protection Agency] to take the unprecedented step of imposing an energy tax by regulatory fiat," the congressmen wrote. "This catch-all proposal would unfairly penalize existing facilities and almost certainly preclude the construction of new coal-fired plants."
The letter signers pointed out that Daniel Schrag, a member of Obama's Council of Advisers, recently admitted that, "politically, the White House is hesitant to say they're having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what's needed." The congressmen said Schrag's remark "demonstrates that these policies are explicitly an attempt to drive coal from the marketplace."
Obama's war on coal has already led to 204 plants across 25 states closing between 2009 and 2012, according to the congressmen. Continued costly EPA regulations will lead to more closings and hurt the economy.
"We ask that you stand with our constituents, our coal miners and our coal communities by rejecting these proposed NSPS greenhouse gas regulations to reflect the true commercial realities of different fuel types and control technologies. Staying the present course will only prove disastrous: increasing unemployment, raising costs for American families and businesses and reducing our energy security," the congressmen conclude.
The letter comes as three more coal-fired power plants announced in early July that they would be closing due to a weak market and the cost of complying with EPA regulations.
According to Reuters, 15,000 megawatts of coal-fired electric power have been lost since Obama took office in 2009, and 37,000 megawatts will be lost in the next 10 years under these policies.
About 40 percent of the nation's electricity is generated by coal-fired plants.