Rockefeller Amendment to Delay, Not Block, EPA Power Grab Puts Coal Jobs at Risk, says National Center for Public Policy Research

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) Clashes with WV Congressional Delegation Over EPA Carbon Dioxide Regulationz

Washington, D.C. – Senator Jay Rockefeller’s legislation to delay implementing the EPA’s proposed carbon dioxide regulations by two years would be insufficient to prevent significant job loss, including in West Virginia, say policy experts with the National Center for Public Policy Research.

In fact, says National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Tom Borelli, Ph.D., “Rockefeller seems to be President Obama’s point man on the EPA in the Senate and is willing to play politics while the coal industry burns.”

President Obama explicitly supports raising energy prices, even at the cost of many jobs, to combat what the President believes is ongoing, human-caused, global warming.

Congress has not been inclined to go along, declining to pass “cap-and-trade” legislation even in the last Congress, when both Houses were under strong Democrat majorities.

During a recent debate on small business legislation, Rockefeller offered an amendment that seeks only a two-year delay in EPA regulations. Rockefeller’s ploy seemed intended to stymie an amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that would have blocked the EPA’s authority to control carbon dioxide.

Unlike Rockefeller, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Representatives Nick Rahall (D-WV), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and David McKinley (R-WV) support the Energy Tax Prevention Act, which prevents the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide without explicit Congressional approval.

“Following the failure of cap-and-trade legislation to pass in Congress, President Obama is using the power of the executive branch as a weapon in his war on fossil fuels,” said Tom Borelli. “Rockefeller falsely claims that a two-year delay is sufficient to ‘safeguard jobs’ and ‘secure a future’ for the U.S. coal industry.”

“The only thing certain is Obama’s intense dislike of fossil fuels, especially coal,” added Tom Borelli. “A two-year delay only kicks the EPA can down the road. It would not give any clarity or certainty to the business community to invest in projects that rely on fossil fuel energy. With bi-partisan momentum gaining traction to block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions, Senator Rockefeller stands apart from the WV delegation by thwarting efforts to reign in the agency’s power grab.”

“Rockefeller is running interference for sound public policy by clouding a vote on the EPA’s authority. By offering his amendment, Rockefeller is giving political cover to Senators who don’t want an up or down vote on the EPA’s power grab,” said Deneen Borelli, full-time fellow of the Project 21 black conservative leadership group, which is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. “Rockefeller is choosing to side with Obama and his war on coal and not with many of his constituents, who work in the coal industry,” said Deneen Borelli.

Recent Congressional testimony
estimated that, by 2030, 77% of all coal mining jobs in America will vanish if the EPA controls fossil fuel emissions.

According to a state website, the West Virginia coal industry is responsible for about 30,000 jobs. Rockefeller’s gambit thus risks killing an estimated 23,000 West Virginia jobs.

“It’s revolting to see Rockefeller both abandon his constituents and cede legislative authority to the EPA. I urge the citizens of West Virginia to demand Rockefeller join the WV delegation and represent their interests to counter Obama’s anti-coal agenda,” said Deneen Borelli.

The National Center for Public Policy Research just published “Upton-Inhofe Legislation Would Block the EPA’s Harmful Climate Rules: U.S. Economy, Jobs, and Energy Costs at Stake,” by Dana Joel Gattuso. The paper includes a critique of Senator Rockefeller’s legislation, saying, “The problem with [Rockefeller’s] approach is that it impedes job creation and economic growth by furthering regulatory uncertainty. Also, it does nothing to stop the EPA from imposing regulations without voter approval… Telling the EPA to wait two years before it overrides the will of voters is not acceptable and would invite EPA over-reach and encroachment on congressional authority in the future.”

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project has been critical of corporations lobbying for carbon dioxide regulations to artificially enhance the value of their investments in fossil fuel alternatives. These corporations, like President Obama, support the EPA regulations. Project 21 has noted that 76% of African-Americans want job creation, not climate change, to be the top priority of Congress, and has repeatedly pointed out that because minorities have lower incomes on average, they re disproportionately hurt by increases in energy prices.

The National Center For Public Policy Research is a conservative, free-market non-profit think-tank established in 1982. It is supported by the voluntary gifts of over 100,000 individual recent supporters, and receives less than one percent of its revenue from corporate sources.


The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.