A set of so-called “pro-coal” Representatives have introduced HR 6113 to prove that they care more about Don Blankenship’s approval than their constituents’ health. This bill asserts that Obama’s EPA threatens national security.
Continuing their march to ignore evidence, make stuff up, and push for an entirely rampant and unregulated coal industry, coal-bound legislators have introduced what they are calling the “Electric Reliability Protection Act” (HR 6113). If signed into law, this bill would defund EPA’s efforts to protect Appalachian citizens from the toxic valleyfills associated with mountaintop removal. In addition, the Representatives assert that the Obama Administration’s very attempt to protect citizens from toxic drinking water is indeed a threat to national security, which we’ll go into below. This is an election season bill that has little chance of passage. However, stunts like this allow Congressmen like Nick Rahall to prove that he needs Don Blankenship’s support more than he needs his constituents to have clean water, a decent job, or an average lifespan. This legislation is as cowardly as it is nihilistic, and just as irresponsible.
Of course, one of Senator Byrd’s final messages was that a majority of Congress opposes mountaintop removal, and it certainly shows in the lack of support for HR 6113. While a good bill like the Clean Water Protection Act (HR 1310) has 172 bipartisan cosponsors, HR 6113 has just 15, nearly all of them with some vested interest in the coal industry.
The lead sponsor, Congressman Hal Rogers (KY-05), has more mountaintop removal in his district than any other in the United States. More than 60% of mountaintop removal has been inflicted right there in eastern Kentucky, and Mr. Rogers wouldn’t have it any other way. Despite his staunch allegiance to letting the coal industry rampage through his district, KY-05 has the 7th highest poverty rate in the nation. In fact, 37.3% of the children in Mr. Rogers’ district live below the poverty line. This is all too common for the children of Appalachian communities left impoverished by (among other things) mountaintop removal mining and lack of economic diversification. Communities in Appalachia that are not relying on mountaintop removal do much better economically. In beautiful western North Carolina’s 5th district (home of Appalachian Voices’ HQ), the topography is similar to eastern Kentucky, but the poverty rate is half that of Rogers’ devastated district.
Congressmen Rogers’ and Rahall’s districts are #1 and #2 for most mountaintop removal in the whole country, right there at the top (congrats fellas!). But Rahall and Rogers have much more in common than that. In the latest Gallup “physical well-being” index, Rogers and Rahall sit on top of the charts again for having …wait for it… the sickest districts in the whole United States! Fellow Blankenship-lover Rick Boucher (D-VA-09) comes in a distant third in both mountaintop removal and ability to let the coal industry sicken his constituents to an early death.
So, since mountaintop removal has been such a resounding success (in getting Don Blankenship a performance bonus), these Congressmen have decided to return Blankenship the favor by introducing HR 6113.
The problem is that this trainwreck of a bill is the legislative equivalent of an unconstructed valleyfill.Read more