Lawmaker: Coal is Obama’s ‘kryptonite’

The author of legislation designed to block forthcoming rules on power plant emissions accused President Obama Monday of ignoring coal country workers who would be hurt by the regulations.

During remarks at the conservative Heritage Foundation, Rep. Mike Kelly said Obama has sought to avoid any discussion of the potential economic consequences of regulations.

“You’d think it was kryptonite, and he’s Superman,” the Pennsylvania Republican said.

Kelly’s speech comes as the Environmental Protection Agency prepares to hold a series of public hearings on a rule designed to cut carbon pollution by 30 percent over the next 16 years.

Earlier Monday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy defended the proposal in a conference call previewing the hearings in Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.

Opponents of the plan say it would put coalmines out of business, decimating an industry that provides 40 percent of the nation’s electricity.

Kelly went a bit further, likening the regulatory strategy to terrorism.

“You talk about terrorism, you can do it in a lot of different ways,” he said. “But you terrorize the people who supply everything this country needs to be great — and you keep them on the sidelines — my goodness, what have we become?”

Pressed on the fiery language, Kelly appeared to walk back the remarks, saying that the regulatory action has the effect of smothering economic activity.

“When a government can level on you taxes and regulations that makes it impossible for you to compete, then you’re going to stay on the sidelines,” he said.

Kelly's bill, the Coal Country Protection Act, would bar the EPA from moving forward with power plant regulations that would raise electricity rates, cost jobs, adversely affect gross domestic product or interrupt service.