The House is expected to take up legislation next week to stop the Obama Administration's and the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulatory agenda to strangle U.S. coal energy production, kill jobs, and drive up energy costs.
The bill to be considered in the House, the "Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012'' (H.R. 3409), is comprised of several measures focused on ensuring that the regulation of coal mining activities, including the disposal of fill material, is reasonable and does not lead to the elimination of good-paying jobs and affordable energy for many Americans.
Next week's measure includes the "Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011" (H.R. 2018), bipartisan legislation sponsored by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL), Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH) and others. H.R. 2018 was approved by the House on July 13, 2011, but for over a year now, the Senate has failed to act on this job-protecting bill to bring a halt to EPA's overreaching agenda.
"The heavy-handed regulatory regime championed by this Administration and EPA is strangling the economy, driving up energy prices for consumers, and putting people out of work," Mica said. "This common sense bill will protect jobs and lower energy costs by ensuring the reasonable regulation of a critical industry and energy resource in this country."
The "Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012," by incorporating the earlier bill, will limit the EPA's ability to veto Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Act section 404 dredge and fill permits, if EPA has previously approved them. In addition, it will give states more flexibility to administer these permitting programs. Last year, in an unprecedented action, EPA revoked a section 404 permit it had previously approved, even though there had been no violation of the permit conditions. EPA's heavy-handed, unpredictable decision to change its mind led to restricting coal mining activities, the permits for which had already been issued -- with EPA's concurrence -- and the elimination of jobs.
Mica added, "What's the value of a permit if there's no certainty whether it will be revoked later for no reason?"
The bill restricts EPA's ability to veto a Corps 404 permitting decision unless the state concurs with the veto, and allows a state to assume and administer only parts of the 404 permit program; under current law, states are required to assume the entire program or none of it.
This measure also restricts EPA's efforts to trample the states' long-standing cooperative role under the Clean Water Act in regulating water quality in their waters. These provisions block EPA's usurpation of the states' role under the Clean Water Act in setting water quality standards. The bill clarifies and restores the long standing balance that has existed between the states and the EPA as co-regulators of the Clean Water Act, reining in EPA from imposing one-size-fits-all regulations on the states.