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Flashpoint

June 15, 2014

FLASHPOINT: EPA must not ignore Hoosier families

TERRE HAUTE — Last fall, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy embarked on a national listening tour to gather feedback on possible new energy regulations. Notably absent from her itinerary was Indiana or any other Midwest state that generates a high percentage of electricity from coal.

Hoosiers found out why last week.

In the latest installment of the Obama administration’s ongoing war on coal, McCarthy announced that the EPA is putting forward new rules on existing fossil fuel power plants. These new proposed regulations are essentially a backdoor energy tax that will damage Indiana’s economy and hike the electric bills of all Hoosiers.

Because coal helps fuel our state’s economy, the EPA proposal will place a chokehold on Indiana’s primary and most affordable energy source. As the seventh-highest coal producing state in the nation, Indiana relies on coal-fired electricity to meet over 80 percent of Hoosier energy needs. The coal industry provides over 2,500 jobs and contributes more than $750 million to the Indiana economy.

Despite the significant impact these regulations would have on Indiana, the EPA did not hold any public forums with Hoosier families and workers in the coal and electricity industry before its announcement this week. And it isn’t just the voices of Hoosiers that this administration is ignoring.

Yet again, President Obama is trying to circumvent Congress to implement policies that the elected representatives of the American people do not support.

A Democrat-controlled Senate refused to even consider a similar proposal in 2010, and the EPA’s proposed regulations would have even less support in Congress today.

In addition to constitutional questions, the EPA’s announcement ignores the progress the utility industry has made in recent years. Energy providers in Indiana and across the country have spent tens of billions in capital investment for air pollution controls resulting in significant declines in emissions. Indiana also has been a leader in reclamation and restoration on the mining front.

While we all agree that clean air is vitally important, the EPA needs to understand the impact that its regulations will have on every part of the country. Penalizing the Hoosier coal industry with unattainable environmental restrictions is the wrong approach and ultimately will remove coal from our nation’s energy portfolio.

At a time when many Indiana families are already struggling to make ends meet, raising the cost of energy is the wrong approach. We cannot allow Washington to deliver another regulatory blow to Indiana’s economy. Hoosiers will not tolerate it, and neither will I.

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