January 31, 2011

Rockefeller, Manchin Lead Colleagues in Fight to Protect Coal And Manufacturing State Economies

Legislation Calls for Two-Year Suspension of EPA Action on Greenhouse Gas Regulations to Protect Jobs and Coal and Manufacturing Industries

Washington, D.C.—Senator Jay Rockefeller today was joined by Senators Jim Webb (D-VA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Kent Conrad (D-ND) in introducing legislation to suspend Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation of greenhouse gases from stationary sources for two years. 

“I’m proud that today we took important action to safeguard jobs, the coal industry, and the entire economy as we move toward clean coal technology,” said Senator Rockefeller. “Now is the time to encourage companies to invest in new technologies and create jobs, and we need a system that gives major employers the framework to do so and to succeed.  Many of us agree that Congress, not the EPA, must be the decision-maker on such a challenging issue.

Rockefeller continued, “We must give Congress enough time to consider a comprehensive energy bill to develop the clean coal technologies we need and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, protect West Virginia and improve our environment.  We can address emissions and secure a future for the U.S. coal industry, but we need the time to get it right and to move clean coal technology forward.” 

“I do not believe that Congress should cede its authority over an issue as important as climate change to unelected officials of the Executive Branch,” said Senator Webb.  “It is critical to our environment and our national security that we move towards more responsible energy policy, but Congress – not the EPA – should enact any changes, and be accountable to the American people for them.”

“Congress is the most appropriate place to debate and create rules that would address greenhouse gases,” Senator Tim Johnson said. “With a well-thought out plan on addressing our country’s energy issues, we can reduce the effects of harmful emissions and create new job opportunities at home by producing more clean energy in the United States.”

“No bureaucratic agency should be able to regulate what has not been legislated, especially when their actions jeopardize thousands of jobs,” said Senator Joe Manchin. “In the worst economy in generations, the EPA is undermining our fragile economy and has been an adversary instead of a partner on energy issues. It is time to reevaluate the agency’s use of its authority. I will work hard to make sure the EPA cannot overstep its authority, even as we develop a balanced approach to meeting our energy needs – including using clean coal and natural gas – and end our dependence on foreign oil.” 


Senator Rockefeller has been working to protect coal miners’ jobs and secure the economies in clean coal states. Rockefeller’s legislation will allow two years for Congress to consider comprehensive energy legislation. The legislation directs that for two years after enactment the EPA can take no regulatory action and that no stationary source shall be subject to any requirement to obtain a permit or meet a New Source Performance Standard under the Clean Air Act with respect to carbon dioxide or methane, except for the widely-supported motor vehicle emission standards.

The bill – the EPA Stationary Source Regulations Suspension Act – will give Congress the time it needs to design and pass well thought-out legislation.  Comprehensive energy legislation should be crafted with a combination of certainty and incentives to create the right business atmosphere for coal’s continued use well into the 21st century.  In order to give businesses, energy company CEOs, and investors a reason to invest in technology, they need to know there will be a market for that technology and some level of comfort around the certainty of future environmental regulations.