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Senator: Obama wants to “destroy” the coal industry

By Jeff Postelwait, Online Editor, Electric Light & Power/POWERGRID International

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) spent nearly an hour at the White House on the morning of August 1 speaking with officials there about proposed regulations he said would be harmful to the American coal industry.

Manchin spoke with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and White House legislative affairs director Miguel Rodriguez. He described the meeting as direct but respectful and productive, but remains an opponent of more stringent regulations on coal.

“They’re using every tool they have to destroy the most abundant, reliable and affordable resource that we have,” Manchin said.

Renewed accusations of an Obama administration “War on Coal” restarted in June when producers of coal-fired electricity voiced their opposition to the president’s plan to place a limit on the amount of greenhouse gases released by existing power plants.

Manchin said these proposed standards are economically ill advised and technologically out of reach.

“We don’t have the technology to meet the standards,” Manchin said. “If it’s unattainable, it’s totally unreasonable.”

Joining Manchin in his push were West Virginia Gov. Ray Tomblin (D), Rep. Nick Jo Rahall (D-W.Va.) and representatives of the coal mining industry.

In July 2013, Manchin was the lone Democrat who did not vote to confirm Gina McCarthy. He said he found her to be earnest, friendly and pragmatic, but could not vote for her because of her role in enacting unreasonable regulations.

“I voted against Gina McCarthy to be the next Administrator of the EPA, but my fight is not with her. My fight is with President Obama and the EPA, the regulatory agency that has consistently placed unreasonable regulations and unobtainable standards on energy production, rather than focus on efforts to develop a domestic all-of-the-above energy strategy for the future,” Manchin said at the time.

Members of President Barack Obama’s energy and environment team, like McCarthy and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz have said the administration’s goal is not to pick winners and losers, but to support high-tech energy solutions that can help transition the country to a low-carbon economy.

“We start by saying we must control CO2 emissions. So then after many years of talking the talk, when it comes to making coal competitive, at least as a competitor, in a low-carbon marketplace, the issue is walking the talk in terms of developing the technology,” said Moniz.

Both McCarthy and Moniz have said that coal will continue to be a major source of electric power for the U.S. for decades into the future.

At an August 1 press breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said, “There’s no war on coal.”

Moniz went on to say that the Obama administration recently announced a solicitation for about $8 billion in loan guarantees to support the development of advanced fossil fuel technologies, including carbon capture and storage, which could allow the coal-fired power industry to generate electricity with fewer emissions.

This article was originally published on Electric Light & Power/POWERGRID International. It was republished with permission.