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Local Control of Coal
June 19, 2014
HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania's House of Representatives is taking steps to try to ensure lawmakers have the final say over any state plan to comply with proposed new federal rules to cut carbon dioxide pollution from power plants.

State Reps. Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield/Elk) and Tommy Sankey (R-Clearfield) both endorsed the measure that asks the federal government to allow Pennsylvania to make its own decisions with regard to developing guidelines for the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. House Resolution 815 passed the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and may now be taken up by the full House.

Gabler and Sankey, both members of the committee, issued the following statement upon passage of the resolution:

“While we were debating this bill in Harrisburg, a long line of dedicated coal miners stood outside a                   congressional hearing room in Washington, D.C., waiting to testify on the first day of the comment period for the federal government’s proposed regulation for existing power plants. They are fighting for their jobs and their families, and we are doing likewise in supporting House Resolution 815, a piece of common sense, bipartisan legislation that goes beyond party lines and into the homes of thousands of hard-working Pennsylvanians.

“The coal industry employs more than 41,000 people and is a major source of tax revenue on the local, state and federal level (approximately $700 million altogether). All told, coal’s economic benefit to the state is estimated to exceed $7 billion.

“Coal provides reliable, low-cost energy not only for our state, but for many surrounding states that we service as the largest net exporter of electric power in the United States. The coal industry is aware of its bad reputation and has reacted with technological advances and smarter land use that make it a necessary component of any diversified energy portfolio.

“In addition to being an energy issue, this is a states’ rights issue. Under the federal Clean Air Act, states are empowered with the ability to develop plans for establishing and implementing standards of performance for existing sources of emissions. They are allowed to adopt less stringent emissions standards or longer compliance schedules based on certain factors that make those standards more reasonable. The impact closing coal-fired power plants will have on Pennsylvania’s employment picture and the pocketbooks of its citizens through higher energy prices easily fit that definition.

“Gina McCarthy, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, verified a few days ago the federal government is involved in a war on coal. We, as members of the General Assembly, are asking to uphold our right to not get involved in this war and be allowed to decide what is best for our citizens.”

Republican Gov. Tom Corbett is critical of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule, saying he's worried it'll damage Pennsylvania's coal industry. His opponent in November's election, Democrat Tom Wolf, says it provides an opportunity for leadership from the governor.

States won't have to submit a state plan before 2016. The EPA would establish a plan for a state that doesn't submit a plan, or a plan it approved.

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