Coal Industry Waging War Against EPA

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After playing the victims of an allegedly unfair, and completely fabricated, “war on coal,” the coal industry has gone on the offensive by launching their own war on federal regulators.  Specifically, the group has their sights set on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Coal lobbyists, led by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), have been meeting with White House officials to weaken EPA standards on CO2 emissions.  The lobbyists claim that a rule requiring carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at all new coal-burning power plants should be removed because the technology is “not available.” 

Once you move past their talking points, their real agenda is clearly visible.  After claiming that the required technology is not available, the lobbyists then admitted that their goal was to completely exempt the industry from any form of emissions standards put forth by the EPA through the Clean Air Act.

The EPA is currently working on draft proposals that would significantly reduce the amount of allowable carbon pollution from existing power plants, a move that the coal industry views as too costly.  The lobbyists’ meeting with White House officials is, according to The Hill, the most recent in a string of meetings between industry and administration officials this summer.

The recent meetings with White House officials to dismantle emissions standards are just the tip of the iceberg.  The coal industry has unleashed a wave of corporate cash and lobbyists in the last few years attempting to strip the EPA of its power and responsibility to protect the public from industrial pollution.

According to OpenSecrets, the coal industry spent millions of dollars last year to lobby against EPA carbon emission standards, as well as to elect coal-friendly politicians.  OpenSecrets also points out that the vast majority of the coal money went to Republicans, with the exception of Democrats in West Virginia, a coal stronghold. 

One of the top spenders last year was none other than the ACCCE, which spent $1.72 million lobbying against EPA’s emissions standards. 

The coal industry also spent a large amount of money backing the “Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012,” a Republican-led effort to paint President Obama and his administration as anti-coal before last year’s presidential election.

Earlier this summer, President Obama renewed his vow to reduce the United States’ carbon emissions, most of which come from the burning of coal and other fossil fuels. 

The coal industry is leading the charge to derail the President’s efforts by attacking the EPA and undermining their credibility.  Dirty energy money has been effective at keeping standards at bay for years, but with more and more Americans waking up to the reality of climate change and public health impacts from pollution, we may have finally reached a point where lobby money is no longer enough to silence the will of the American public.

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine, and his articles have appeared on The Huffington Post, Alternet, and The Progressive Magazine. He has worked for the Ring of Fire radio program with hosts Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Mike Papantonio, and Sam Seder since August 2004, and is currently the co-host and producer of the program. He also currently serves as the co-host of Ring of Fire on Free Speech TV, a daily program airing nightly at 8:30pm eastern. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009.  Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced.

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