Trump takes aim at Obama's harmful anti-coal policies
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Over the last eight years in Ohio, I've witnessed firsthand how hardworking taxpayers took an especially hard hit from President Obama’s policies directly targeting Ohio's fossil fuels industries.  The executive order signed by President Trump this week completes the reversal of some of the Obama administration's most onerous efforts to permanently shutter the coal industry and eliminate fossil fuel-related jobs across the country.

American consumers should not be punished in the form of higher electricity bills for using energy derived from fossil fuels.  And job creators should not be punished for responsibly harvesting our natural energy resources.  President Trump’s executive action will allow American workers to compete – and succeed – on a level playing field in both the domestic and global economy.


President Trump’s recent action on the energy front should not come as a surprise to anyone -- these were his campaign promises. The president stated over and over on the campaign trail that he would not forget coal miners and coal families, and that he would help save their jobs. It’s refreshing to have a president that wants to protect these hard-working men and women who mine the coal used to keep our lights on – rather than punishing them.

In February, the president first followed through on his promise by signing into law H.J. Res 38, which I authored.  By signing my resolution, President Trump officially repealed the Interior Department’s onerous mining rule, the so-called “Stream Protection Rule” (SPR), which jeopardized thousands of coal jobs, and placed a majority of America’s coal reserves off limits. This ill-conceived rule had nothing to do with protecting our nation’s streams; in fact, there is a plethora of existing state and federal law already in place to protect our streams and other water resources. Rather, it was nothing more than a thinly disguised effort to advance the war on coal from the supply side by regulating the coal mining industry out of business through overly burdensome, costly, and duplicative regulations.

Make no mistake: ensuring that the water we drink and the air we breathe are clean is critically important, especially to those of us in America's coal country who drink and breath them. But, the people who live and work in coal communities and depend on coal for their livelihood must have a say in how to protect their water and jobs – it cannot be an edict passed down on high from unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. States and local jurisdictions are closer and more accountable to those they serve; certainly more so than faceless Washington bureaucrats.

With President Trump’s Energy Independence Executive Order this week, and the repeal of the SPR, coal is now moving toward a level energy industry playing field – one that has not existed for eight years. These two actions have released the coal industry from two of its most damaging regulatory shackles – as the passage of my resolution gave the supply side of the industry a fighting chance, while President Trump’s executive order has given the demand side, the generating business, desperately needed relief.

When work below the ground stops, everyone pays a price. But it’s not just coal. The United States is the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas - but, that's despite the fact that while development on private land has soared, natural gas produced on federal lands has declined. More responsible development of federal lands will create many new jobs, grow our economy, and importantly, benefit our national security.

The president has clearly demonstrated that there can be a common-sense balance - it is possible to have environmentally responsible regulations that don’t result in lost jobs and skyrocketing energy costs for American consumers.

Moving forward, this recent executive action will not only help increase America’s progress toward true energy security, it will put America on the path to energy "dominance". America has enough coal to fuel America's energy needs for generations, and the coal industry should be given the opportunity to fairly compete with other energy sources, and the president has kept that promise. Our new energy policies should encourage and celebrate – not disparage – American energy production at home.

Johnson represents Ohio's 6th District and serves on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power.

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.