Today, House Republicans passed H.R. 3409, the "Stop the War on Coal Act" that supposedly counters the Obama Administration's hostility to coal jobs. It passed 233-175.
Although it won't pass the Democratically-controlled Senate, it's part of their election year messaging, along with Solyndra. Obama has promised to veto the bill if it does get to his desk.
The bill would "protect coal jobs" by blocking a slew of environmental regulations and is being called the worst anti-environment bill EVER in the history of Congress.
"Rather than dealing constructively with the economy or introducing bills that might create jobs ... it bundles almost all the worst environmental bills previously introduced in the House into one super polluter bill. It is nothing short of a full-scale assault on America's most important environmental laws. It includes attacks on the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Surface Mining Control Act and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It also attempts to overrule the decision by the Supreme Court [that orders the EPA to regulate carbon emissions] and, to top it off, rejects climate science," says Donna Lisenby of the Waterkeeper Alliance.
It once again seeks to eliminate the EPA's power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, blocks the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard; prevents it from regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste; and limits its Clean Water Act authority, among other provisions.
Here are the details she cites:
- Title I would allow mining companies to proceed unfettered as they poison and destroy rivers and ecosystems, threatening the communities that depend on them and shielding even the most egregious mountaintop removal mining operations from new public safeguards under the Surface Mining Control Act.
- Title II, or H.R. 910, gives the biggest polluters a free pass for unlimited carbon pollution by repealing EPA's science-based endangerment determination and simply declaring that carbon dioxide is no longer an air pollutant. This title would also cost consumers at the pump by eliminating U.S. EPA clean car standards.
- Title III, or TRAIN Act (H.R. 2401), blocks and stalls for at least 6-7 years (allowing permanent delay) of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which curbs power plant smog and soot pollution that crosses state lines, and Mercury and Air Toxics standards, which limit mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants.
- Title IV aims to maintain the dangerous status quo that led to the Kingston, TN coal ash disaster in 2008, by blocking regulation of coal ash.
Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee released a report that slams potential Department of Interior Department rules that would tighten controls on wastes from mountaintop removal mining, calling it "gross mismanagement" of the rulemaking process and "potential" political interference, and claims the rule would cause "widespread economic harm," says The Hill.
The bill would block Interior from issuing rules that would "adversely impact" coal mine employment, designate any areas unsuitable for surface coal mining, or reduce U.S. coal supplies.
- Title V, or H.R. 2018, would reverse decades of progress in cleaning our nation's waters. It undermines the cooperative state-federal partnership at the core of the Clean Water Act. TheEPA would be stripped of its important authority to ensure that water quality standards are enforced and reflect the latest science.
Sadly, this super polluter bill is one in a long line of bills introduced this year whose goals are to give polluters free reign to poison our air and water. The 112th Congress has cast a record-setting 302 anti-environment votes, making it the worst in history on the environment.
"Coal has backed the GOP's political campaign with heavy spending on TV ads, lobbying and political contributions. Coal and dirty utilities have spent $66 million on lobbying since 2011. House Republicans have received $4.4 million in career contributions from the coal industry - nearly 5 times the amount Democratic members received, according to a ThinkProgress analysis of Center for Responsive Politics data," the Center for American Progress Action Fund says.
"Disingenuously spinning this as some sort of jobs legislation does not hide House Republican leadership's true purpose: to continue gutting our fundamental environmental and health protections just to please political supporters," says Franz Matzner, associate director of government affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
"No amount of rebranding can change the facts: Dirty air and water won't create jobs, but it will pollute our lungs, contaminate our water and devastate our communities.
"Despite all the other pressing issues America faces, it's unfortunate but not surprising that Republican leadership continues to spend time dismantling our basic environmental protections. This is what they've been doing since they took control of the House."
Youth Speak Out Against Polluters
In over 50 events across the country today, youth are demanding that politicians reject contributions from big polluters as part of the national Power Vote campaign. Events include rallies and voter registration drives.
Power Vote, a project of the Energy Action Coalition, activates young people and students who care about climate and clean energy to vote in the 2012 elections.
"Big polluters are trying to hijack this election with record spending and by working with groups like ALEC to disenfranchise voters, but young people are fighting back," says Maura Cowley, executive director of Energy Action Coalition. "We demand candidates lead on solutions to clean energy and climate and reject dirty money. Power Vote activists are registering and turning out record numbers of young voters to counter dirty politics with grassroots people power and demanding corporations like Duke Energy leave ALEC."
Their goal is build a nationwide network to take on dirty money.
The National Wildlife Federation's new Student's Guide to How Corporate Oil, Gas and Coal Money Influences U.S. Energy Policy, details how the industry bankrolls campaigns of incumbents in Congress with key energy and environment committee assignments.
"Oil, gas and coal companies want to make the odds seem too overwhelming for the rest of us to affect change in the fight to combat climate change," says National Wildlife Federation CEO Larry Schweiger. "Young voters across the country can overcome the money of big energy companies by getting involved and fighting for a cleaner energy future. Voters get the last word, and politicians know that young voters hold the keys to their political future."
Here's the NWF report: