Here's one for the dog-bites-man file: The coal industry has lost again in Washington.
The latest defeat came Wednesday when the U.S. Senate voted to protect Environmental Protection Agency rules to cut toxic emissions from coal-fired power plants. The EPA, which has kept the coal industry in its crosshairs throughout the Obama administration, had approved the new regulations in December.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, has been fighting them ever since, saying the rules were simply another part of the administration's “war on coal.” But Wednesday he lost in his attempt to roll back limits on emissions of mercury and toxic chemicals, so the new rules will stay on the books.
This administration would prefer Americans use renewable energy — wind, solar, anything other than coal — to heat and light their homes. The fact that coal is relatively cheap and abundant doesn't matter. It's not clean enough, so it must go. If that means higher electricity bills for consumers — and it absolutely will, because complying will cost utility companies a pretty penny — well, that's life.
The administration contends these new rules will prevent 130,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms, more than 6,000 cases of acute bronchitis among kids, and could prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths. We'll see. What is sure to happen is that coal workers will lose their jobs as this assault on their industry continues.