WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency has finally admitted that their relentless war on coal is not about fighting climate change but rather to show "leadership." EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said so in recent testimony before the Energy and Commerce Committee in the House of Representatives.
After being pressed for the motivation behind a new set of regulations, she acknowledged that rules impacting the fossil fuel industry weren't about reducing greenhouse gases or containing global warming. No, she said, they were to demonstrate American "leadership" and to garner support for an international climate change agreement reached in Paris.
So according to Ms. McCarthy, all the testimony provided by President Obama's EPA dealing with climate change and radicalizing the environmental movement in America was based on a false premise. The thousands of pages of federal regulations impacting the use of coal, oil, or natural gas were not meant to save the polar bears, prevent droughts, or protect our coast lines.
This unanticipated and candid testimony after eight years of stonewalling was shocking and it revealed a troubling insider view of the Obama administration. Their incessant pursuit of an ideologically-driven agenda has revealed that their goal is not to address our ever-changing climate but rather unwittingly disclosed an arrogance of power. Their regulations may not improve or stabilize the global climate, but they are certainly being felt at kitchen tables all across our country.
Regulations from this administration between 2009 and 2014 have forced many coal fired plants to close, costing our economy almost 40,000 jobs. This unprecedented over-reach done as a feel-good exercise is having a real impact on families in West Virginia and all across America. Americans deserve better.
Surely President Obama is now aware the rest of the world is not following his "leadership" since the Paris agreement was reached in December. India intends to double its production of coal. Japan and South Korea have announced plans for 61 new coal- fired power plants. And coal consumption in China is slated to increase. Countries around the world have a voracious appetite for low-cost, dependable energy produced from coal and they intend to feed it.
Ms. McCarthy's assertion that the Obama administration's efforts were all about "leadership" is dangerous and irresponsible. Leadership should never be measured by inducing pain and suffering for thousands of Americans who have lost their jobs in the coal fields and related industries especially if there is no environmental benefit. She admitted that new EPA rules won't have any measurable impact on climate change. That wasn't their purpose.
Instead of continuing this failed approach, President Obama would be well advised that leadership could be far better demonstrated by working with Congress to solve threats to our national security, reduce the national debt, create jobs, destroy ISIS, solve our immigration problem and stop the growing drug epidemic in our country.
Leadership from the administration would be welcomed in improving our education system, fixing the broken federal tax code, rebuilding our nation's aging infrastructure or lifting millions out of poverty.
Therefore, if the administration is really looking to provide "leadership" and improve America's economy, they can start by stopping their destructive and unwarranted war on coal; and in the same vein, if EPA regulations don't benefit our country as explicitly acknowledged by Administrator McCarthy, why keep them on the books?
So let's make this clear; this administration has now admitted that its war on coal is all for show and has nothing to do with improving the global environment. The only thing this president's "leadership" has done on energy issues, is hurt working families across America.”
McKinley serves in the U.S. House of Representatives from the First District of West Virginia. He resides in Wheeling. This opinion piece originally appeared in The Intelligencer/Wheeling News Register.