Two incoming Republican senators have already outlined policy objectives for themselves and the rest of the GOP-controlled Congress next year. Republican Senator elect Shelley Moore Capito from West Virginia became the latest republican to voice her opinion vowing to push back the approval of an EPA proposal that would regulate carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants.
“The president’s policies are disenfranchising my part of the country,” Capito stated. “We’ve been picked as a loser, and I’m not going to stand for it. Rolling back the EPA regulations is the way to do it.”
Capito’s comments coincide with remarks made earlier this week by incoming Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from Kentucky who also vowed to prevent the EPA from imposing regulations on coal based power plants.
Both Kentucky and West Virginia are key coal manufacturing states, which have experienced a significant decline in recent years.
Earlier this year, the EPA issued its greenhouse gas reduction targets, which would aim to achieve a decrease in total emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2020.
In efforts to achieve this, the EPA has promoted the increased use of natural-gas-fired, nuclear or renewable electricity; energy efficiency; and other strategies.
Previously, coal accounted for more than half of U.S. power production. However, in 2012, low natural gas prices reduced that number down to roughly 32 percent. For the first time in recorded history, natural gas and coal were tied in fueling the country's power plants.
The EPA projects that coal will remain an essential part of the country's energy portfolio.
According to EPA estimates, more than 14,000 mining jobs would disappear between 2017 and 2020.