Editorial: Energy

Legislation could help coal industry

One provision in a massive bill approved by the U.S. Senate raises the question of whether lawmakers are just wasting their time in attempting to put the nation on an "all-of-the-above" energy footing.

Never mind that the measure, passed in an 85-12 vote, has wide, bipartisan support. The question is whether, even if it is enacted, President Barack Obama will abide by it.

Something for virtually everyone is included in the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015. It would help the "renewables" industry, including solar and wind power. It would encourage energy efficiency. It would provide $500 million for parks and other public lands. It would make the nation's electric power grid more secure.

But it also would help both the coal and natural gas industries - and the tens of millions of Americans for whom those fuels provide inexpensive, reliable electric power.

Both senators from West Virginia, Republican Shelley Moore Capito and Democrat Joe Manchin, wrote key provisions of the bill.

Capito included important stipulations that would help this region of the country exploit our abundant natural gas resources. One of her inclusions addresses the problem of slow federal action on gas pipelines.

Both senators sponsored provisions aimed at what Americans ought to view as a scandal - Obama's careful campaign to make it impossible to burn coal in power plants. Exploring clean coal technologies would be required by sections of the bill for which both Manchin and Capito are responsible.

One provision on which Manchin insisted would require the Department of Energy to spend money already authorized for clean coal innovation.

As Manchin explained, $8 billion was authorized for that purpose in 2008, but the DOE "has yet to use the funds for carbon and cost-reducing fossil energy projects."

When have you ever heard of the federal government being handed $8 billion and not spending it?

When it might hamper the Obama administration's war against coal and affordable electricity, that's when.

It is simply outrageous that the Senate would have to include a provision such as Manchin's in a bill - but illustrative of Obama's determination to get what he wants, even if that devastates states such as ours and harms tens of millions of Americans.

And the very fact that senators had to include the spending mandate makes it doubtful that, even if the bill ever becomes law, this president will obey it.

Still, senators and members of the House of Representatives, who have a similar measure, should push forward. The next president may be one willing to obey laws instead of making his own.

Source: The Inter-Mountain