Even as higher gasoline and electricity prices make it clear the United States lacks a rational energy policy, too many members of Congress appear content to allow President Barack Obama to act against one of the keys to our future - coal.
Through a variety of tactics, Obama and his Environmental Protection Agency are pursuing a war not just against the coal industry, but against the reasonably priced electricity and potential for liquid fuels it offers.
A few lawmakers, led by some from Ohio and West Virginia, have attempted to fight back. But their efforts are stalled in Congress. In the Senate, misguided loyalty to their president among many Democrats is to blame. In the House of Representatives, Republicans who ought to be pushing hard against Obama have shown little interest in coal.
Among the first acts Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., took when he went to Washington was to introduce a bill, S272, titled the EPA Fair Play Act. Its goal is to force the EPA to stop arbitrary use of water permit power to attack coal mining.
Manchin's bill has eight co-sponsors, including Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. The measure was introduced more than a year ago, yet it has been bottled up in committee since then.
A similar bill, introduced by U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-Wheeling, has met a similar fate. McKinley's proposal, introduced in January 2011, has 15 co-sponsors, including U.S. Reps. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeview, and Shelley Capito, R-Charleston.
That bill, too, has been stalled in committee.
Another Manchin bill, S1833, is intended to give utility companies more time to comply with EPA rules intended to make it much more expensive to burn coal in power plants. Titled the Fair Compliance Act, it was introduced last November.
It, too, has enjoyed virtually no movement.
Unless the war on coal is halted, tens of millions of American families will pay hundreds of dollars a year more on their electric bills. Many energy-intensive industries will be wrecked. So will the economies of some states, including Ohio and West Virginia.
Yet, apparently because they do not understand the harm Obama is doing to their constituents, many members of Congress are not joining thoughtful lawmakers such as Johnson, Gibbs, Manchin and McKinley.
Later this year, many of those lawmakers will be up for re-election. Perhaps it is time for political action committees to begin reminding voters in their states of how their elected senators and representatives are failing to protect them.