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West Virginia has to fight for our coal miners and their families

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Nick J. Rahall II Nick J. Rahall II

Nick J. Rahall II represents the 3rd Congressional District of West Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives.

As I have strived throughout my career to support coal, I have always been mindful of the needs of our coal miners, their families and our coal mining communities. I have labored to make certain that coal mining companies and the government ensure safe, healthy working environments for all miners. I have worked hard to prevent unfair regulatory requirements that could undermine coal jobs, increase energy prices for working families and reduce energy reliability.

So it was with great concern that I listened to the president's State of the Union address in which he threatened to circumvent the Congress and its concerns about jobs and affordable energy and to empower the EPA to take unilateral action in regard to climate change.

Having long endeavored to ensure that America produces the energy it needs to fuel a strong economy, particularly through the use of coal, I have also worked to ensure that coal can address our energy challenges more cleanly, efficiently and affordably.

I know from experience that no singular government agency is sufficiently positioned to tackle the complex solution required to address carbon emissions. It is misleading to suggest otherwise.

Reducing carbon emissions requires innovation and investment in innovative technologies, such as carbon capture and sequestration and deploying those technologies broadly. Such an effort ought to include marketing those technologies to other countries, particularly China and India, whose annual emissions are rapidly rising and threatening to undo the good that might be achieved by carbon reductions in the rest of the world.

And any successful carbon reduction effort will also require taking into account the effects that such emission reductions could have on the economic recovery and on jobs.

These are not matters that the EPA is required to consider or equipped to address.

Federal regulations require transparency and public input in order to be viable, long-term solutions. It is one of the eternal truths of our form of government that the public has to be informed, involved and engaged. And no government policy or program lasts long without the support of the American people.

Our national effort to recover from economic hard times requires our continued unrelenting commitment throughout the foreseeable future. We have made progress, but we cannot let down our guard anytime soon. In that regard, it is nonsensical for any government agency to pursue regulatory actions without also carefully considering their economic costs.

To simply allow the EPA to move ahead on its own in crafting a national strategy on climate change is recipe for disaster. It assures a lop-sided solution to a broad and cumbersome challenge and one that cannot survive long in the light of public scrutiny.

I have championed legislation to prevent the EPA from unilaterally imposing restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from coal-burning power plants and manufacturing facilities – all of which are aimed at tamping down the burning of coal in America.

That bill joins a host of other bills I have cosponsored in defense of our coal miners. For example, among the key parts of the "Stop the War on Coal Act" passed by the House of Representatives in the 112th Congress were the provisions of my bill to stop EPA's interference with coal mining in West Virginia.

Our coal miners simply want to earn an honest living to provide for their families. I am proud to serve in the trenches with them as we fight in support of coal to protect their jobs.

And as long as the EPA continues to attack our miners, I will keep on fighting by coal miners' side.

I intend to keep on doing all that I can to promote coal and keep our miners on the job producing affordable energy for the nation.