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GOP on Obama's Coal Move: Attacks Middle-Class Jobs and Punishes the Poor

Image: GOP on Obama's Coal Move: Attacks Middle-Class Jobs and Punishes the Poor
President Barack Obama (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 15 Jan 2016 04:01 PM

The Obama administration decision Friday to halt new coal leases on federal lands amid a program overhaul only "attacks middle-class jobs and punishes the poor," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

"At a time when Americans are calling on the Obama administration to protect our nation and strengthen the middle class, the administration is again making clear that its priorities are elsewhere," McConnell said.

The six-term Kentucky Republican was among many GOP legislators who attacked the administration's decision on Friday. Nearly 40 percent of the coal produced in the United States comes from federal lands — primarily Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.

"Today's announcement to halt federal coal leasing represents just the latest front in an ideological 'war on coal' that has contributed to devastation in communities in Eastern Kentucky and to the loss of thousands of jobs across the commonwealth," McConnell said. "No wonder more than 70 percent of Americans want to see the next president take a different approach from the current one."

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Friday the administration is seeking to determine whether fees charged to mining companies provide a fair return to American taxpayers and reflect coal's impact on the environment.

Companies can continue to mine coal reserves currently under lease, Jewell said. The coal-leasing program has not been significantly changed in more than 30 years.

Jewell said it needed to be modernized to ensure a fair return to American taxpayers and to account for climate change.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said President Barack Obama's decision "has made it absolutely clear what he plans to do with America's energy — keep it in the ground.

"Coal on federal land belongs to all Americans, but the president is denying people access to their own abundant, low-cost energy source," the Wisconsin congressman said. "The ramifications for the country will be terrible: lost growth, lost jobs, and lost revenue that would have gone to schools, bridges, and roads.

"The president's policies have already ravaged coal country, destroying jobs and people's way of life — and this will increase that suffering," he said.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the move settled "any lingering questions about whether the Obama administration is intent on decimating America's coal industry.

"An indefinite moratorium on domestic coal-leasing is neither necessary at this time nor the best way to ensure that taxpayers receive a fair return on resource production," she said. "This announcement is the manifestation of a misguided 'keep-it-in-the-ground' policy that will harm local economies and threaten future energy supplies, while doing little to promote innovation or transparency."

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The Obama administration decision Friday to halt new coal leases on federal lands amid a program overhaul only "attacks middle-class jobs and punishes the poor," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
gop, obama, halt, coal, attacks, middle class
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2016-01-15
Friday, 15 Jan 2016 04:01 PM
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