- - Monday, September 24, 2012


St. Louis-based Patriot Coal Corp. filed for bankruptcy earlier this year — citing, among other factors, “challenging environmental regulations affecting the cost of producing and using coal, and weaker international and domestic economies.” This announcement came on the heels of the Obama administration’s proposed carbon dioxide rules for power plants, which essentially banned the use of coal as an energy source.

Just last week, Patriot Coal announced it will lay off 250 employees and contractors at three mines. Meanwhile, coal producer Alpha Natural Resources announced it is eliminating 1,200 jobs companywide. Unfortunately, these headlines are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the devastating economic impact resulting from the current administration’s burdensome energy agenda.

Thanks to President Obama’s energy policies, an increasing number of coal-powered electricity plants nationwide have announced closures in the past two years, and America has lost at least 2,000 direct jobs in the coal industry — not including indirect or related jobs. The president’s own Energy Information Administration reports that 8.5 percent of total 2011 coal-fired capacity will retire by 2016 — four times greater than the capacity retired during the preceding five years.

In a state such as Missouri, which is overwhelmingly dependent on coal for 82 percent of our electricity, the Obama administration’s costly regulations are a crushing blow for those searching for greater access to more affordable energy sources. With national unemployment hovering above 8 percent for more than 43 straight months and more than 23 million Americans underemployed and unemployed, the result for families and job creators in our state and elsewhere is less reliable access to more expensive energy.

While Mr. Obama claims to pursue an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, in practice, his administration has pursued upside-down energy policies that have left middle-class families struggling with higher energy costs and fewer jobs. This administration has wasted years and billions of taxpayer dollars waging a war on fossil fuels, attempting to pick winners and losers in the energy sector.

The president’s refusal to pursue more affordable access to American energy is stifling much-needed economic opportunity at a time when we need more certainty for small-business owners struggling to make ends meet. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. As a candidate, Mr. Obama promised that energy costs “would necessarily skyrocket” under his energy policies.

Unfortunately, that’s one campaign promise he has managed to keep.

In 42 days, voters in Missouri and nationwide will have a choice: We can maintain the status quo and continue the current administration’s onerous energy policies, which are stifling job creation and energy independence. Or we can elect Mitt Romney, who has a plan to utilize domestic and reliable energy sources, such as coal, in order to position America to achieve North American energy independence by 2020.

More American energy means more American jobs. Through Mr. Romney’s all-of-the-above energy plan, we have a chance to jump-start private-sector job creation by electing a president who will stand with Missouri families, seniors, farmers and job creators.

Sen. Roy Blunt is a Missouri Republican.

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