Time may already have run out for Americans to defeat President Barack Obama in his war against the coal industry. Many utility companies already have run up the white flag.
Before millions of people even knew about the war on coal, decisions were made that will send their utility bills skyrocketing. Some of those choices are irreversible.
A few weeks ago it was revealed at least 32 coal-fired power plants in 12 states, including West Virginia and Ohio, would be closed so utility companies could comply with the Obama administration's air pollution regulations. On the list was the Kammer Plant near Moundsville.
Last week FirstEnergy announced it would close three West Virginia power plants later this year, along with six in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, for the same reason.
Environmental Protection Agency officials are pressing utilities to replace 25 percent of their coal-fired generating capacity by 2014. That may not be possible, but it is an indication Obama's EPA is attempting to wreck the coal industry before anyone can stop it.
A few days ago, American Electric Power President and Chief Executive Officer Nick Akins said complying with EPA mandates will drive power costs up by at least 10-25 percent. AEP serves 5.3 million customers in 11 states.
On the heels of all that came a disturbing report from the North American Electric Reliability Corp., which works to ensure the nation's power grid is fed by enough generating plants to avoid interruptions in service. EPA regulations "are shown to be the number one risk to reliability over the next one to five years," the NAERC reported.
It may already be too late to save some coal-fired power plants. Clearly, time is short to prevent a crisis - and that is not too strong a word. Members of Congress, led by courageous West Virginians such as Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. and U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., have fought the good fight on the issue for many months. It's time for other lawmakers to stand up for their constituents and join in the fight.