House coal supporters on Monday said they would make pushing back against President Obama's "ideologically driven" rules against power plants their top priority in the 114th Congress.
The House Coal Caucus held its inaugural meeting, appointing Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., the new chairman. He said the caucus will "stand up to the Obama administration and push back on executive overreach" on a number of environmental rules that the "science simply does not support."
The role of the Coal Caucus is to keep fellow lawmakers informed on issues affecting the coal industry. McKinley's office said the top issue is EPA power plant regulations, and at center of those regulations is the Clean Power Plan. The plan requires states to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal- and oil-fired power plants.
Coal plants are already closing because of separate regulations for mercury and toxic gases. The rules make it uneconomical for some plants to comply, prompting energy companies to decide to close the plants rather than upgrade them to comply. The Clean Power Plan would exacerbate the situation by forcing even more coal generators to close, the industry says. The EPA says the rules are flexible enough not to drive up costs for consumers or hurt electric reliability.
"As the incoming chairman of the bipartisan group, Rep. McKinley will ensure Congress is aware of the impact federal regulations are having on coal miners, their families and their communities," a statement reads.
McKinley adds that the president's "ideologically driven" agenda is closing coal mines, while forcing power plants to choose to close rather than comply with expensive regulations.
"The American families who rely on coal for affordable, reliable energy and good-paying jobs deserve to have their voice heard in Washington," he said. "The bipartisan Congressional Coal Caucus will be that voice. We will re-energize the debate about our energy future and stand up for those families devastated by President Obama's war on coal."
Republican Reps. Larry Bucshon of Indiana, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Evan Jenkins of West Virginia and John Shimkus of Illinois attended Monday's meeting. The caucus is made up primarily of Republicans, but some Democrats are included among its ranks.