GOP ‘war on coal’ bill gets veto threat

The White House is threatening to veto House GOP legislation that would scuttle an array of current and planned environmental rules that Republicans call harmful to coal industry jobs.

In a statement Wednesday evening, the White House said the package contains “harmful measures that would undermine landmark environmental laws and adversely affect public health, the economy, and the environment.”

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The bill, H.R. 3409, is slated for a vote later this week. It's aimed at preventing what Republicans call a White House "war on coal."

It would nix the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions; take aim at other air emissions rules; prevent the agency from issuing stringent rules on storage and disposal of coal ash, a waste product from coal-fired power plants; and limit the agency’s Clean Water Act powers, among other provisions.

The White House called the bill a major rollback of vital protections.

“H.R. 3409, for example, would block landmark Clean Air Act public health regulations, such as the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, which would reduce harmful air pollution that threatens public health, especially the health of children and seniors. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that emissions reductions resulting from meeting these standards will prevent as many as 11,000 avoidable premature deaths and 4,700 heart attacks annually,” the White House said in threatening to veto the bill.

The measure – which packages several bills that have previously passed the House –  is expected to win approval Friday but won’t advance in the Senate.

It’s nonetheless providing Republicans a platform for election-season attacks against White House policies that GOP lawmakers say are costing jobs in regions where coal is mined and widely used for electric power.

But the White House, in the statement, pushes back against the claims.

“As has been noted in previous statements on related legislative proposals contained within H.R. 3409, the Administration strongly rejects the notion that economic growth and protecting the health of our communities and families are mutually exclusive,” the White House said.