In their final act before taking a six-week break to focus on re-election, members of the House of Representatives on Friday passed what Republican advocates termed the “Stop the War on Coal” bill. Here’s how the legislation is described in The Hill:
The legislation is a combination of five bills that would overturn or prevent an array of regulations that Republicans say would harm the coal industry and the economy. Among other things, it would block the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other sources, and prevent rules on the storage and disposal of coal ash and limit Clean Water Act rules.
It would also prevent potential Interior Department rules to toughen environmental controls on mountaintop removal coal mining, and thwart other air emissions rules, including air toxics standards for coal-fired power plants.
Hawaii Reps. Colleen Hanabusa and Mazie Hirono were among the 175 “no” votes. Hirono’s congressional office put out a statement criticizing the bill shortly after the vote:
Two wrongs don’t make a right, and combining four bad bills just equals one extremely bad idea. This bill fails to take a balanced approach to our need for affordable, clean energy and undermines laws protecting the air we breathe and the water we drink. It’s no wonder the Obama Administration strongly opposes this bill.
Families and businesses in Hawaii know that the key to a sustainable economy is to continue our progress on renewable energy, respecting our environment, and managing our natural resources responsibly. That’s the type of energy bill I’d like to see, not one that makes it easier for power plants to release mercury and other toxic pollutants into the air.
Linda Lingle’s campaign, asked for comment, steered clear of the content of the GOP-backed bill — likely unpopular in environmentally conscious Hawaii. Instead, the campaign attacked Hirono’s record in an emailed statement from spokeswoman Corrie Heck:
Mazie Hirono likes to trumpet what she’s against. But she hides her true record of no constructive accomplishments. She hides the fact that during her 22 years as a state legislator and Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor, Hawaii’s dependence on foreign fossil fuels increased – mostly by importing coal, the fuel she now attacks. Hirono hides the fact that for almost six years in Congress, she worked on no legislation that helped move our nation toward clean energy. Only now, for a political campaign, does she show up for work, and unfortunately it’s only to tell us what she’s against.
— Michael Levine