EPA regulations not stringent enough, according to local environmental group

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April 3, 2014
Alabama coal war: Judge dismisses federal lawsuit seeking to shutter dozens of coal mines
May 29, 2014
By Patrick Cagle
Special to AL.com 
Posted April 11, 2014

Stacie Propst, executive director of the environmental group GASP, recently published a guest editorial that was inexplicably misleading.

In her opinion piece, Propst urges members of the community to oppose the renewal of ABC Coke’s Title V Operating Permit as a means of “taking back control” from the “political goliaths.” Her populist rhetoric is used as a diversionary tactic that implies impropriety by omitting relevant facts.

Propst never mentions that ABC Coke, a plant that turns Alabama mined metallurgical coal into a product used to make steel, is in full compliance with all regulations and mandates established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The truth is, GASP wants ABC Coke to be held to standards stricter than those required by the EPA, which is a tough pill to swallow since overregulation has become a hallmark of the environmental agency under the leadership of President Obama.

The mounting regulatory burden the EPA has placed on the coal industry has pushed it to the verge of collapse. Now, local groups like GASP are urging regulators to tighten their stranglehold on the embattled industry. This two-pronged approach is the San Francisco-based Energy Foundation’s strategy for killing coal. First, the Foundation applies pressure from the top-down by giving grants to groups working at the national level to “secure new EPA rules to limit pollution from coal-fired power plants.” Then, they apply pressure from the bottom-up by giving grants to environmental groups like GASP that are working at the state and local level to “accelerate the retirement of coal-fired power plants in Alabama.” By creating this echo chamber of activist groups demanding action, they produce the illusion of broad public support that encourages the Obama Administration to call for new job-killing EPA regulations. This strategy bears a striking resemblance to the “sue and settle” tactic that environmental groups have used to induce EPA rule making behind closed doors.

The Energy Foundation has given $2.8 million dollars to the coalition of anti-coal environmental groups that are active in Alabama. This coalition is comprised of the Alabama Environmental Council, Alabama Rivers Alliance, GASP, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and the Southern Environmental Law Center. This month, GASP is earning their keep by fighting against the ABC Coke Plant. Next month, it could be any combination of these groups. The Energy Foundation sees the big picture, and so must we. Their ideology should take a backseat to the economic wellbeing of hardworking Alabama families.