Two lawmakers who will attend a congressional hearing today in Belmont County are painfully aware of what probably will be said during the event. Let's hope testimony helps to wake up other representatives who may not understand the imminent peril faced by tens of millions of their constituents.
Reps. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, and David McKinley, R-W.Va., will be among lawmakers at the Ohio University Eastern campus near St. Clairsville today. They will be there for a formal hearing of the House Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending.
Both representatives have fought back hard against President Barack Obama's war on coal. Mining is important to the economies of both their districts.
As Johnson noted, however, the industry's importance goes far beyond jobs in mining. "Coal is vital to providing reliable, low-cost electricity to America," Johnson emphasized in announcing plans for the subcommittee hearing.
Indeed it is. Coal-fired power plants provide about 96 percent of the electricity consumed in West Virginia and about 87 percent of Ohioans' needs. Until about a year ago, approximately half the power generated in the entire country came from coal-fired plants.
Coal's share of the U.S. energy mix is dwindling rapidly, however - because of the war against coal initiated years ago by radical environmentalists. President Barack Obama and liberals in Congress have embraced the cause and, using the Environmental Protection Agency as a hammer, are pounding the industry unmercifully.
That means they also are harming local residents, as McKinley and Johnson are aware. Some already have lost jobs in mining and industries related to low-cost electricity generated from coal.
If Obama and his EPA are not stopped, the pain will spread to tens of millions of other Americans through higher monthly utility bills and jobs lost in industries that rely on reasonably priced power.
Hearings such as that being held today are effective methods of spreading the word about the human cost of over-regulation by government. Today, lawmakers will be hearing about Ohio Valley victims of Obama's war on coal. Again, let's hope they understand that if the White House and EPA are not stopped, hearings in the future may include heart-rending testimony from residents of other regions.