“This EPA has turned the coal permitting process into an illegitimate, back-door means to shut down coal mines permanently, by sitting on permits indefinitely and removing any certainty from the regulatory process,” McConnell said Monday. “By playing this game of ‘run out the clock,’ they have put many Kentucky mining operations into limbo and cost Kentucky thousands of jobs and over $123 million in coal severance money.”
“The EPA is changing the rules in the middle of the game. And they’ve done it all without a single vote in Congress,” McConnell said. “What EPA is doing is outside the scope of its authority, outside the scope of the law, and represents a fundamental departure from the permitting process as originally envisioned by Congress. So if this administration won’t rein the EPA in, Congress will. Congress must.”
McConnell’s bill would require the EPA to approve or veto permit applications within 270 days otherwise the permit would automatically be approved. He said his bill would also help farmers, homebuilders, realtors, transportation-industry workers, municipalities and manufacturers by stopping the EPA from imposing a “back-door national energy tax” by regulating carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants under the Clean Air Act.
More than 14,000 people in Kentucky are employed by the coal industry.
“Coal is a vital part of my state’s economy, and a vital part of America’s energy portfolio,” McConnell said. “The EPA’s attack on this important Kentucky industry hampers the growth of jobs, and it especially hampers the growth of small business — the greatest engines of job creation.”
The bill will likely be blocked in the Senate by Democrats, who advocate for diversifying the U.S. energy portfolio with clean energy sources.
Rep. Shelly Capito (R-W.Va.) is expected to introduce a companion measure in the House.