Montana's Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today joined the House of Representatives in passing H.R. 3409, the Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012. This critical legislative package includes several bills intended to rein in President Obama's regulatory assault on one of the nation's most important sources of energy. Among the provisions is a measure that would ease the regulatory burden that is largely to blame for a decision earlier this week by PPL Montana to mothball a 154-megawatt coal plant in Billings that has been in operation for 44 years.
"President Obama campaigned on a platform of destroying coal jobs, and his Senate allies have been willing accomplices as he uses executive authority to fulfill that disastrous effort," said Rehberg. "But someone's got to stand up for the hard working Montanans who depend on coal to pay the bills. Someone's got to stand up for families who already spend too much on energy and can't afford to pay more. It's time for the federal government to stop abusing the regulatory system to pick winners and losers and to get out of the way of a comprehensive energy policy. Montana can do it all -- coal, wind, solar, oil, geothermal, biomass -- and create thousands of great jobs in the process."
The J.E. Corette plant in Billings is scheduled to shut down indefinitely in 2015, as a result of onerous new federal pollution rules which would cost the company at least $38 million in upgrades to reach compliance. But Billings is hardly alone. A new study by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity warns that more than 200 coal-based electric generating units in 25 states are scheduled to be shut down due, at least in part, to new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.
Fewer energy producing plants means higher prices for consumers who are already trying to make ends meet with lower incomes and a rising cost of living.
H.R. 3409 contains versions of five stand-alone bills designed to protect good-paying energy sector jobs, keep energy prices low and ensure those jobs are safe. Those five bills are:
The Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act
Protects Montana jobs by prohibiting the Secretary of the Interior from issuing new rules or regulations that will hurt mining jobs and our economy.
The Energy Tax Prevention Act
Stops President Obama from abusing the Clean Air Act to circumvent Congress and impose costly cap and trade style greenhouse gas regulations. This disastrous policy is actually designed to drive up energy prices, send jobs overseas and hamstring our economic recovery.
The TRAIN Act
This legislation requires the analysis of the economic impacts of certain environmental regulations. It will protect hundreds of thousands of jobs currently at risk from EPA's new power sector rules, including those that are harming the J.E. Corette plant in Billings.
Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act
This section provides for safe management and disposal of coal ash in a way that saves jobs and boosts recycling.
Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act
This important bill serves as a check and balance to the EPA's willful infringement on the states' role in setting water quality standards under the Clean Water Act. It restores the balance between federal and state partners in regulating the nation's waters, avoiding a faulty one-size-fits-all approach handed down from bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.