Stop the War on Coal Act (H.R. 3409)
Title I of the bill, the Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act, sponsored by Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), will protect American jobs and support U.S. energy production by prohibiting the Secretary of the Interior from issuing new rules or regulations that will adversely impact mining jobs and our economy. It is a necessary safeguard in response to the effort by the Obama administration’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) to conduct a sweeping rewrite of a coal mining regulation (the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule) that will cost jobs and decrease American energy production.
Specifically, the Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act will prohibit the Secretary of the Interior from issuing regulations under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act that will: Adversely impact U.S. coal mining employment; Cause a reduction in coal revenue to governments through regulation of coal mining; Reduce the amount of coal available for domestic consumption or export; Designate any area as unsuitable for surface coal mining and reclamation operations; or Expose the U.S. to liability for taking the value of privately owned coal through regulation.
Title II of the bill, referred to as the Energy Tax Prevention Act, was authored by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) to stop President Obama’s EPA from using the Clean Air Act to impose costly greenhouse gas regulations that would burden broad sectors of the economy. This bipartisan legislation protects jobs and stops EPA's cap-and-tax agenda, which threatens to drive up energy prices, send jobs overseas, and hamstring our economic recovery.
The Energy Tax Prevention Act will not simply delay EPA’s plans for a national energy tax; it will permanently prevent such a tax from ever being imposed by regulation under the Clean Air Act. The bill does not weaken the Clean Air Act in any way, but merely ensures the law is not misused for a carbon cap-and-tax regulatory regime for which the Act was never designed.
Title III of the bill, known as the TRAIN Act, was authored by Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK) to provide for an honest accounting of the full cost of EPA’s rules. This bipartisan legislation requires an interagency committee to analyze the cumulative economic impacts of certain environmental regulations in an effort to better understand how these policies affect American manufacturing, global competitiveness, energy prices, and jobs.
The legislation will protect hundreds of thousands of jobs currently at risk from EPA’s new power sector rules, namely the Utility MACT rule and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. EPA has estimated the annual cost of the Utility MACT rule to be almost $10 billion, but EPA has never acknowledged the total cost of that rule, which some estimate as exceeding $100 billion. Taken together with proposed revisions to the Ambient Air Quality Standards, the Coal Ash rule, and other regulations, the economic consequences could be dramatic.
Title IV of the bill was modeled after the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act, authored by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) to provide for the safe management and disposal of coal ash in a way that preserves jobs and encourages recycling. The legislation, which enjoys bipartisan and bicameral support, provides a practical alternative to EPA’s misguided plan to regulate coal ash under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which is estimated to cost over 300,000 jobs and drive up electricity costs.
The legislation provides for consistent state regulatory authority over coal ash under Subtitle D of the Solid Waste Disposal Act. This commonsense approach to regulation will protect hundreds of thousands of jobs and preserve beneficial reuse of coal ash, which helps keep electricity costs low, provides for low-cost durable construction materials, and reduces the amount of waste going into surface impoundments and landfills.
Title V of the bill, the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act, is bipartisan legislation to block EPA’s usurpation of the states’ role under the Clean Water Act (CWA) in setting water quality standards. This will restore the long-standing balance between federal and state partners in regulating the nation's waters, rein in EPA from unilaterally imposing its one-size-fits-all regulations, and preserve the system of cooperative federalism established under the CWA in which the primary responsibilities for water pollution control are allocated to the states.
This bill also restores certainty to the Clean Water Act section 404 permitting process by limiting EPA’s ability to veto permits it has previously approved, and for which there have been no violations. In 2011, EPA heavy-handedly revoked such a permit, which led to the restriction of coal mining activities that were already underway.
The bill has been spearheaded by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) and is part of the committee’s work to achieve a common-sense, balanced approach to federal regulation by the EPA, rather than heavy-handed federal regulatory overreach that stifles economic growth and ignores the proper rulemaking process.
Additional Information on the War on Coal can be found below.