Since coming to Congress in 2011, I've been a leading voice against the harmful impacts of President Obama's War on Coal. We all know that the president, Nancy Pelosi, and many Democrats in Washington want to totally eliminate the coal industry. I've been fighting against the administration's Stream Buffer Zone rewrite for over three years now, starting an uphill battle each session of Congress.
According to the president's own estimates, this rule alone would result in thousands of coal miners losing their jobs with little to no environmental benefit. Not to mention the indirect jobs that would be lost in our coal mining areas that support the families that live there and work in the industry. This rule was a campaign promise to the radical environmentalists, and the president has been trying to push it through.
That's why I authored legislation called the "Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America Act" that would stop President Obama's harmful regulation from going forward. My legislation was approved by the House of Representatives on a bipartisan vote in March, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has refused to allow a vote on the bill in the Senate.
The president isn't content to attack coal on the supply side -he's attacking on the demand side too. He's working to drive down demand by trying to make good on another campaign promise: to bankrupt any company that wants to build a coal-fired power plant.
Remember what Obama told the American People is 2008: "If somebody wants to build a coal-fired power plant, they can. It's just that it will bankrupt them." He added, "Under my plan ... electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket." And the president's War on Coal is apparent right here in Eastern and Southeastern Ohio, where six coal-fired power are constantly at risk of being shut down due to his continued overregulation.
President Obama tried to shutter the doors on coal during his first term by passing cap-and-trade legislation, which we really know was cap-and-tax legislation on the coal industry. Thankfully, enough of the Democrats in the Senate were scared of losing their jobs that it never came up for a vote in the Senate.
However, with these new EPA regulations, the president is ignoring the will of the people and pushing through regulations that will virtually guarantee no new coal-fired power plants will ever be built again, while forcing the early retirement of coal-fired power plants across the country.
This will lead to less energy reliability - less certainty that our lights and power will stay on, especially in the cold months like we had this past winter. What the American people want and need is available, reliable, and affordable energy to heat and cool their homes year round.
The House has acted repeatedly to pass legislation that would restrict the president's plan to shut down the coal industry. We will continue to support pro-coal measures and press him to abandon his plans, but we need some help.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will not allow the Senate to even consider any of the bills the House has passed. That's why it is so important that Harry Reid be sent to the back benches of the Senate this November. With responsible Republican leadership in the Senate we can start putting legislation that stops the War on Coal on the president's desk.
The president will then have to decide whether or not he wants to stand with the majority of the American people and reject regulations that will cause electricity rates to skyrocket and cost tens of thousands of jobs, or whether he continues to stand with radical environmentalists that want to destroy America's coal industry.
Until that time, you can believe that I and my colleagues in the House will try every means available to try and slow down and stop these rules from ever being finalized.
The work that is accomplished every day in the coal mines, and at coal-fired power plants, provides the engine that drives America's economy. I will never forget that. We can't give up this fight, and I will always fight in Congress to protect our coal jobs from people who seek to eliminate them.
Johnson, R-Ohio, represents the state's 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The district includes Belmont, Jefferson and Monroe counties, as well as all or parts of 15 other East Ohio counties.