This Week in the Congress

by William Yeatman on May 7, 2011

in Blog, Features

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On Thursday, the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee of the House Transportation Committee held a hearing on “Environmental Protection Agency Mining Policies: Assault on Appalachia.” Video and written testimony are available here. For detailed descriptions of the EPA’s outrageous war on Appalachian coal production, click here, here, or here. Suffice it to say, EPA has subverted the Administrative Procedures Act to enact a de facto moratorium on mining. It engineered a new Clean Water Act “pollutant,” saline effluent, which the EPA claims degrades water quality downstream from mines by harming a short lived insect that isn’t an endangered species. The hearing yesterday was part 1; next Wednesday, the subcommittee is scheduled to hear from EPA administrator Lisa Jackson.

It was a bipartisan bashing. The only Democrat to show up was Ranking Member Rep. Nick Rahall (WV), whose opposition to the EPA exceeds that of Republicans, due to the fact that his State is the largest coal producer in Appalachia, and is, therefore, harmed most.

For the “Part 1” hearing on Thursday, the primary topic was the EPA’s procedural shenanigans. For part two next week, with Administrator Lisa Jackson, I very much hope they address the EPA’s shoddy science on the ecological impact of mountaintop mining.

The star of the show was Rep. John J. Duncan (R-TN). Either he is an incredible speaker, or he has a great stump speech about “environmental extremism.” He said that his district used to produce 12 million tons of coal every year. Now, he said it produces 2 million tons annually. He noted how environmentalists tend to be the upper middle class, while environmentalist policies hurt the poorest the most. It was a great speech.

Kentucky Energy and Environment Secretary Dr. Leonard K. Peters said something very interesting during the hearing. He claimed that EPA Region 4, which serves Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, was amenable to Kentucky’s concerns about the unreasonableness of the EPA’s Appalachian coal crackdown, but that the federal office would not budge. If true, this is a damning indicator of how the Obama administration is willing to harm Appalachia economically in order to sate its coastal environmentalist base.

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