House Energy and Commerce Committee Gets Paid, Big Coal Gets to Pollute

coal plant photo

Image: vxla via flickr

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hear two bills this week, the TRAIN Act, which just promotes the false notion that environmental regulation is costly and bad for jobs, and a second bill that would limit federal oversight of state coal ash disposal standards, essentially preventing the EPA from regulating and enforcing rules on coal ash.

The TRAIN Act would create a multi-million dollar interagency federal committee to conduct cost-benefit analyses of 10 EPA regulations aimed at curbing pollutants, according to SolveClimate. The bills are transparent in how good they are for industry and not for the country, but the money trail is, predictably, the most interesting to look at.The Environmental Integrity Project analyzed data from the Federal Election Commission showing that mining and power industries that will benefit from the coal-friendly legislation have given a combined $433,000 this year alone to six members of the Committee. More details from the Environmental Integrity Project:

Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), an original sponsor of the TRAIN bill, reported a total of $96,650 in contributions from mining and electric power political action committees, and individuals who work for or represent those industries. DTE Energy's political action committee and employees have contributed $13,000 this year, the National Mining Association, Peabody Energy, and Alpha Natural Resources (new owner of the Massey mines) have already chipped in $5,000 apiece, and at least six power companies have donated that much: Ameren, Dominion, Duke, Edison International, Exelon, and American Electric Power.

Regarding the bill that would restrict the EPA's ability to regulate coal ashexactly the opposite of what we need—Congressman McKinley (R-WV), author of the bill:

reported over $185,000 in political donations from mining and electric power interests, including both PAC and individual totals. More than a third of that comes from corporate or individual donations from four coal mining companies: MEPCO ($34,700); Alpha Natural Resources ($11,000); the International Coal Group ($15,900); and Patriot Coal ($10,000).


House Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, cosponsor of both the "Train" bill and Representative McKinley's coal ash legislation, reports $51,250 in donations from coal and power interests. Other Members receiving more than $25,000 from these industries in 2011 include Republicans John Shimkus of Illinois ($37,750), Joe Barton of Texas ($32,400), and Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania ($29,500).

The report added that corporate contributions to Congressman Upton from the coal and power industry from January through May of this year were nearly three times greater than they were during the same period in 2009.

The Committee is expected to vote on both bills this week, after first being approved by the House subcommittee despite the objections of most Democrats, according to eNewsUSA. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said in an opening statement the day the Subcommittee voted on the TRAIN Act:

This bill is called the TRAIN Act because energy lobbyists have been complaining that regulations to protect public health from power plant air pollution will cause a 'train wreck' for the reliability of the nation's electric system.

This is another one of the myths that have become so commonplace in this room, like the myth that climate change is a hoax. Analysts have found that EPA regulations won't cause a "train wreck" or even a fender bender.

More on Congress and energy regulation:
Citing A Better 'Environment' For Business, House GOP Goes After the Environment
Fred Upton Met with Energy Lobbyists in Secret Before His About-Face on Carbon Regulation
New US Energy Chairman: "I Don't Think We Have to Regulate Carbon"

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