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September 26, 2012
House passes sweeping pro-coal bill

By a vote of 233 to 175, including nods from 19 Democrats, the House approved the Stop the War on Coal Act (HR 3409), which contains five distinct pieces of legislation–four that would drastically cut back on EPA’s discretion to issue major regulations that hamper coal mining and coal-fired power generation and one that would place similar statutory restrictions on the Department of Interior (DOI). 
The White House announced that the president would veto the legislation if it landed on his desk.  This appears to be is a nonissue because the Senate will be taking its election recess without considering the bill.  Supporters of the bill nonetheless view it as a demonstration of their efforts to promote conventional energy and curtail the EPA from issuing regulations that result in job losses. 
TRAIN Act included
HR 3409 contains the following titles:

  • The Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act wouldprohibit the DOI from issuing regulations under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, which would adversely impact U.S. coal mining employment; cause a reduction in coal revenue to governments through regulation of coal mining; reduce the amount of coal available for domestic consumption or export; designate any area as unsuitable for surface coal mining and reclamation operations; or expose the United States to liability for taking the value of privately owned coal through regulation.
  • The Energy Tax Prevention Act wouldprevent the imposition of a GHG cap-and-trade program under the Clean Air Act (CAA).
  • The Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act would require the administration to form an interagency committee to report on the cumulative economic impacts of virtually all of EPA’s recent CAA major rules and block the EPA from issuing additional rules until at least 3 years after the report is completed.  The act would also nullify EPA’s current rule to limit emissions of mercury and other air toxics from fossil-fuel- burning power plants. 
  • The Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act would ensure that the states and not the EPA are empowered to issue regulations on the management and disposal of power plant coal ash as nonhazardous waste under RCRA Subtitle D.
  • The Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act would prohibit EPA’s “usurpation” of the states’ role under the Clean Water Act to set water quality standards  and also block EPA’s ability to veto permits it has previously approved, provided no violations of the permit have occurred.

War of words continues
“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,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), according to astatement. 
But Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) argued that the Republican “Polluterplalooza” bill fails to recognize the fundamental shift in the energy marketplace. 
“House Republicans appear to be in an intellectual fog when it comes to energy policy,” said Markey in a statement.  “I guess that’s why they can’t see the invisible hand of the free market moving America to clean energy and natural gas.”
HR 3409 is available at http://thomas.loc.gov.

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