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Lurking quietly in the shadows, behind a wall of political rhetoric and campaign season hype, is a post-election surprise that could ring the death knell for the coal industry, killing massive amounts of jobs in states such as Ohio, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
Reports are beginning to surface that the Obama Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to implement a slew of anti-coal regulations after the election, which will result in the elimination of nearly 900,000 jobs annually.
All of this of course has been carefully calculated for political reasons.
First, an October report from Republican Sen. James Inhofe indicated that the EPA specifically "punted" on numerous regulations in an attempt to "earn votes" for a second term.
Then, the administration illegally failed to meet a deadline for releasing regulatory plans for the coming year, a move which prompted Inhofe to release the following statement:
“President Obama is refusing to comply with the law that requires him to publish forthcoming regulations because he doesn’t want the American public to know the terrible cost of the regulatory barrage he plans to unleash in a second term."
The actual cutback in October regulations and subsequent plans in November bear this out. We've seen an unprecedented number of 'economically significant' regulations being approved by the Obama administration last month. Reports indicate that there were only 4 regulations approved during October, while Obama has averaged over 40 such regulations on average over his term.
Inhofe warns that 2013 will be much different - wide-sweeping regulations will be coming from the White House ... after the election. And it won't be a pretty scene for the jobs scene in coal country:
The Oklahoma senator and ranking Republican on the chamber’s Committee on Environment and Public Works has released a report stating that when the agency approves the roughly one dozen regulations next year in 2013, they will “spell doom” for jobs and economic growth… ‘These rules taken together will inevitably result in the elimination of millions of American jobs, drive up the price of gas at the pump even more, impose construction bans on local communities and essentially shut down American oil, natural gas and coal production.’”
In 2008, Barack Obama famously made this declaration of war against the coal industry:
"If somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can, it's just that it will bankrupt them."
True to his word, Obama's policies resulted in the announcement of an unprecedented number of coal-fired generators being scheduled for shutdown - 175 overall, with a record 57 slated for 2012 alone.
Pulling up in October to ease the burden of over-regulation isn't just an election-time tactic to earn votes though - it is a tacit admission that such big government regulations kill jobs; something the President can ill afford leading up to Election Day.
When things return to normal after the election, as per Inhofe's prediction, the devastation set to be wrought upon the coal industry will be astounding.
As the Washington Examiner reports, the EPA "has devoted an unprecedented number of bureaucrats to finalizing new anti-coal regulations that are set to be released at the end of November". The Manhattan Institute, an independent and non-partisan group, estimates that these regulations will cost the American economy roughly $700 billion.
The bigger cost to the American people however, will be in the number of jobs lost. A separate report provided by the National Economic Research Associates (NERA) examined the impact of seven major EPA regulations on coal-fueled electric generation.
New EPA regulations will facilitate the closing of up to 69,000 megawatts of coal-fueled electric generation, and will sever up to 887,000 jobs per year. Worse according to the report, peak years could see job losses anywhere between 700,000 and a staggering 2.2 million.
Romney spokesman Ryan Williams recently told the Washington Examiner:
President Obama won’t tell the voters of the Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania the truth about his plans to shut down the coal industry. Even after he loses on Tuesday, it appears that the President will still try to continue his efforts to kill their jobs and drive up their energy prices. Mitt Romney is committed to reversing the damage caused by the Obama Administration’s disastrous liberal agenda as soon as he takes office.
The last four years have gone a long way toward fulfilling the President's promise of bankrupting the coal-industry. Only during a critical month prior to the election has he decided to pull up on burdensome regulations.
With the election soon to be behind him, the administration and the EPA are poised to unleash policies that will further crush coal country, killing jobs and taking the U.S. economy down with it.
“The bottom line is that President Obama knows he can’t win reelection if Americans know the truth. It’s bad enough that he’s hiding his second term agenda – it’s even worse that he’s violating the law to do it. The American people deserve more from their President.”
Do the American people, and even more so, the voters in coal dependent states such as Ohio, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, recognize that they deserve more from a President?
Tomorrow will tell.