Battle Over Coal Continues to Rage at House Hearing

Investigations Subcommittee member Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) (C) listens to testimony during a hearing about the the Obama Administration's roll in the Solyndra loan guarantee at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill October 14, 2011 in Washington, DC. Much of the first part of the hearing was spent on parliamentary tactics over whether to release documents from the Department of Energy and the Treasury about concerns over the legality of the Solyndra loans.
National Journal
Clare Foran
Oct. 29, 2013, 12:24 p.m.

The battle over coal con­tin­ued to rage Tues­day af­ter­noon dur­ing a hear­ing held by the House Over­sight and In­vest­ig­a­tions Sub­com­mit­tee on the com­munity im­pacts of im­pend­ing En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency reg­u­la­tions for power plants.

Sub­com­mit­tee Chair­man Tim Murphy, R-Pa., made clear that the pur­pose of the hear­ing was not to dis­cuss the ins and outs of the reg­u­la­tions or talk about how they were cre­ated. The pur­pose, he said, was to al­low mem­bers of Con­gress to hear from people most af­fected by the EPA rule-mak­ing.

“These work­ers bear the im­me­di­ate cost of EPA’s ac­tions,” Murphy said in his open­ing re­marks. “Too of­ten, the prac­tice in Wash­ing­ton is to listen as Belt­way ex­perts and the EPA ex­plain agency ac­tions. But this prac­tice doesn’t cap­ture the daily im­pact of Wash­ing­ton on the dis­tant com­munit­ies where good jobs, with good wages, sup­port a proud way of life.”

Par­ti­cip­at­ing in the hear­ing were a num­ber of rep­res­ent­at­ives of these ‘dis­tant com­munit­ies’, in­clud­ing city and county ad­min­is­trat­ors from coal-rich re­gions and uni­on rep­res­ent­at­ives for the coal and min­ing in­dustry.

Without ex­cep­tion, those testi­fy­ing on be­half of coal com­munit­ies slammed the reg­u­la­tions, say­ing they would have a dev­ast­at­ing im­pact on the in­dustry.

Some ap­pealed dir­ectly to mem­bers of the pan­el, ask­ing them to block the rule-mak­ing.

“I am ask­ing you to please help stem the tide of un­em­ploy­ment and poverty by cur­tail­ing the EPA reg­u­la­tions that so drastic­ally im­pact the pro­duc­tion of Ap­palachi­an coal,” said Al­bey Brock, a county judge and ex­ec­ut­ive from Pinev­ille, Ky.

Oth­ers ex­pressed a sense of dis­il­lu­sion­ment with the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“This is my pres­id­ent. I voted for Obama,” said Ray­mond Ventrone, busi­ness man­ager for the In­ter­na­tion­al Broth­er­hood of Boil­er­makers Loc­al Lodge 154 in Pitt­s­burgh. “I went for­ward and asked oth­er people to vote for this pres­id­ent, but all I want is for [the reg­u­la­tions] to be put in the hands of Con­gress. I think it’s the job of Con­gress to put a bill [for­ward] and let them de­bate what should go on here. I don’t think the EPA should be set­ting the stand­ard for what’s go­ing on right now.”

The lone pan­el par­ti­cipant, apart from the law­makers, not from a coal back­ground was Dan Weiss, seni­or fel­low and dir­ect­or of cli­mate strategy for the pro­gress­ive Cen­ter for Amer­ic­an Pro­gress Ac­tion Fund; he was a last-minute ad­di­tion to the hear­ing lineup.

Weiss offered a coun­ter­point to the con­cerns ex­pressed by Ventrone, Brock, and oth­ers, ar­guing that EPA reg­u­la­tions were un­likely to have dire im­pacts.

Sub­com­mit­tee mem­bers waited for the wit­nesses to fin­ish be­fore chim­ing in. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., voiced sup­port for the de­ploy­ment of car­bon cap­ture and se­quest­ra­tion, oth­er­wise known as clean-coal tech­no­logy. “For coal to have a fu­ture we need to in­vest in the tech­no­lo­gies that al­low us to burn that coal cleanly,” Doyle said. “What this Con­gress should be do­ing is a mis­sion-to-the-moon pro­ject on re­search on how to deal with this is­sue.”

Rep. Phil Gin­grey, R-Ga., on the oth­er hand, cri­ti­cized the pres­id­ent for al­low­ing the reg­u­la­tions to go for­ward. “I want to thank Chair­man Murphy for hold­ing this hear­ing to ex­am­ine the im­pact that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s con­tin­ued — and make no mis­take about it, war on coal is what it is — is hav­ing on loc­al com­munit­ies,” Gin­grey said.

The hear­ing fol­lowed a rally on the west lawn of the Cap­it­ol protest­ing EPA reg­u­la­tions tar­get­ing coal-fired power plants and came one day after the re­lease of a dis­cus­sion draft of le­gis­la­tion in­tro­duced by Rep. Ed Whit­field, R-Ky. and Sen Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to block pro­posed reg­u­la­tions that would lim­it car­bon emis­sions from fu­ture power plants.

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
These (Supposed) Iowa and NH Escorts Tell All
8 hours ago
NATIONAL JOURNAL AFTER DARK

Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:

  • Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
  • Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
  • They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
  • One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
Source:
STATE VS. FEDERAL
Restoring Some Sanity to Encryption
8 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
What the Current Crop of Candidates Could Learn from JFK
8 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Hillary Is Running Against the Bill of 1992
8 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Trevor Noah Needs to Find His Voice. And Fast.
9 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”

Source:
×