Stop the regulations. It's one of the requests I hear nearly everywhere I travel in the Sixth District. Federal mandates and overreaching regulations from the Obama Administration have taken aim at many industries from health care and agriculture to energy production -- including coal.
Recently, Alpha Natural Resources, one of the nation's largest coal companies, announced they were eliminating 1,200 jobs companywide, including 400 jobs lost by the immediate closing of eight mines in Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The closure of three mines in Southwest Virginia is another devastating blow to our local economy at the hands of this administration and places more Virginians among the millions of unemployed Americans. While there is no coal mining in the Sixth District, the ripple effect of these closures can be felt in industries throughout the region. This includes railroad jobs transporting coal, manufacturing, and other industries dependent on affordable electricity.
It should be no surprise that "a regulatory environment that's aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal" is cited as the cause of these closures. Regulations passed down by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and new unattainable standards are shuttering coal-fired power plants and halting coal mining in many areas. The Obama Administration's all out war on coal threatens to drive up energy prices, send jobs overseas, and hamper America's global competitiveness.
Just a few days ago, with my support, the House passed H.R. 3409, the Stop the War on Coal Act. This package of bills is aimed at blocking the administration's continued regulatory assault on coal and domestic energy production.
In the President's State of the Union address this year, he once again called for an "all-of-the-above" energy policy, yet failed to mention coal at all. As a member of the Congressional Coal Caucus, I understand the importance of an all-of-the-above energy plan that includes one of our most abundant natural resources. According to the Energy Information Administration, the United States holds the world's largest estimated recoverable reserves of coal. Additionally, coal generates nearly half of U.S. electricity and is responsible for over 550,000 U.S. jobs.
Regardless of the importance of coal to our national and regional economy, the Obama Administration continues to regulate this industry out of business. Instead of focusing on regulations that leave thousands unemployed, President Obama should focus on policies that create jobs. Instead of failed investments in solar energy companies like Solyndra, we should utilize our affordable domestic coal resources.
More regulations and fewer domestic energy options will not fuel our economic recovery. Coal is not the only energy source being targeted by this administration and its allies. Domestic oil, natural gas, nuclear energy and other options have been hindered or blocked by this administration. I will continue to support energy policies that protect American jobs and support U.S. energy production -- both above and below ground.