News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Flashpoint

July 14, 2013

FLASHPOINT: The ‘war on coal’ will hurt every Hoosier

A survey published recently revealed that 76 percent of Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck with little or no real safety net in the form of savings. Yet at every turn, it seems like the Obama Administration is making it more difficult for families and businesses to make ends meet at the end of the month.

We have a real opportunity to ease this burden, yet the president announced a plan last week to restrict American energy production effectively levying a National Energy Tax on the backs of middle-class Hoosiers.

Many have referred to the president’s policies as “the war on coal.” In fact, one of the president’s top science advisers went as far as to say “a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.”

While the policies the president announced will undoubtedly limit coal production and result in the closure of mines, this is more than a war on coal production.  

It is truly a war on middle-class families, the opportunity to find a good-paying job and provide for your family and war on the manufacturing industry that is vital to our state’s economy.

The war on coal is also a war on Indiana with the potential to drastically impact our state’s coal-dependent economy.

Eighty-eight percent of the electricity generated in our state is from coal production. The coal industry supports 3,000 direct and 12,000 indirect mining jobs. Not to mention that 27 percent of Indiana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is from manufacturing, a sector that is dependent on coal for electricity and the production of products like steel, paper, cement, plastics and other resources.

It is hard to deny the fact that just about every Hoosier will be affected in some way if these policies prevail. If you use electricity, your rates will likely increase. If you drive a vehicle or depend on gas, the price you pay at the pump will likely go up. If you work in the coal industry, your employment is at risk. And if you are involved in manufacturing, it is likely that the cost to do business will rise.

Unfortunately, this is a reality that the President intended. In 2008, then presidential candidate Obama admitted to the San Francisco Chronicle that, “If somebody wants to build a coal-fired power plant, they can. It’s just that it [his plan] will bankrupt them.” Astoundingly, the president went on to say, “Under my plan … electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

We know that in states where more than half the electricity production is coal-based, families pay an average of 11 percent less for electricity. Additionally, a recent poll found that 58 percent of Americans believe that the president’s new EPA regulations will result in increased energy costs — something the House agrees with.

Republicans in the House have been committed to expanding American energy production because we understand that it lowers the price you pay at the pump and for electricity, creates American jobs, promotes energy independence, and strengthens our national security.

To that end, we have passed legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project, a project that has been in review longer than it took America’s greatest generation to win WWII. Recently we also passed two bills that focus on our nation’s greatest potential resources and seek to meet production goals that align our need to expand energy production here in America through processes like offshore drilling.

At a time when many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, our priority should be providing relief at the gas pump and expanding our affordable energy options, not restricting them. Calling for a war on coal, as the president’s climate adviser has, and pursuing a radical, ideological agenda will only do the opposite.

Rep. Larry Bucshon, a former heart surgeon in Evansville, is serving his second term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He a resident of Newburgh.

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