If you've been understandably focused on the increase in prices at the pump, it's time to focus on another pending energy policy disaster that will hit your electric bill soon: the Obama administration's War on Coal. After cap-and-trade failed, the administration's fallback plan has been a relentless regulatory assault on our most abundant domestic energy resource. The U.S. Senate will finally have a chance to do something about it, possibly as soon as this week.
Remember Al Armendariz, the EPA bureaucrat who resigned for admitting he likes to crucify oil and gas companies? He was assigned to Texas and Louisiana to obstruct oil and gas production. What's happening to coal is even more extreme, and now EPA bureaucrat Curt Spalding, assigned to New England, let slip what the most recent power plant regulations are really about.
"If you want to build a coal plant you got a big problem. That was a huge decision," Spalding said. "You can't imagine how tough that was," he continued, "because you got to remember if you go to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and all those places, you have coal communities who depend on coal. And to say that we just think those communities should just go away, we can't do that."
Spalding didn't realize he was being taped saying exactly what he wasn't supposed to say! In Washington they call it a gaffe. Everywhere else it's referred to simply as "the truth."
Obama himself made the same mistake in 2008, when he accidentally revealed his true views to the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board. He told them his plan would make electricity prices "necessarily skyrocket" and ensure that "if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can - it's just that it will bankrupt them."
As Spalding made clear, the Obama administration is well aware that its War on Coal will destroy whole communities. In fact, the economic devastation will also extend beyond coal communities, because forced retirements of coal plants will raise electricity prices all over the country. Just one of the many anti-coal rules, Utility MACT, by itself is expected to raise electric bills for homes and businesses more than 20 percent in the Midwest.
While at times accidentally forthright about bankrupting coal, Obama and his Senate allies have more often tried to play make-believe, claiming these regulations are "for the children" - even though in the 22 years the EPA has studied the issue they have failed to identify a single child whose disability was the result of prenatal mercury exposure.
Up to now senators from coal-producing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania and states that are heavily reliant on coal-fired power plants like Michigan, Missouri, and Montana have tried to avoid taking sides in Obama's War on Coal.
That won't last much longer. Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe will soon force a vote on S. J. Res. 37, which would overturn one of the most costly anti-coal regulations, Utility MACT. It's a key test vote for each United States Senator to signal to voters whether they are for or against Obama's War on Coal. And therefore whether they are for or against making electricity prices "necessarily skyrocket," destroying tens of thousands of jobs, and telling coal communities to just go away.
With few meaningful Senate votes expected this year in a Senate that hasn't bothered to even pass a budget in over three years, this is a vote citizens should watch closely - and keep in mind in November.
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment, a columnist on Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition, and author of the 2011 book Democracy Denied.
American Commitment is dedicated to restoring and protecting America’s core commitment to free markets, economic growth, Constitutionally-limited government, property rights, and individual freedom.
Washingtonian magazine named Mr. Kerpen to their "Guest List" in 2008 and The Hill newspaper named Mr. Kerpen a "Top Grassroots Lobbyist" in 2011.
Mr. Kerpen's op-eds have run in newspapers across the country and he is a frequent radio and television commentator on economic growth issues.
Prior to joining American Commitment, Mr. Kerpen served as vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity. Mr. Kerpen has also previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Free Enterprise Fund, the Club for Growth, and the Cato Institute.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Kerpen currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife Joanna and their daughter Lilly.