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All Americans now see what coal country has

The widening IRS scandal has caught America's attention.

People of all political stripes are generally united in the correct belief that one of the most powerful government agencies should not be able to target Americans for closer scrutiny, and in some cases harassment, because of their political beliefs.

The collective response from America's coal industry could be, "Welcome to our world."

Coal has had a target on its back since President Obama took office. Some groups, the United Mine Workers Union in particular, blithely believed that since Obama was from a coal state (Illinois) that he would be in their corner.

What they failed to consider was the president's adherence to the environmental movement's mission to erase coal from the country's energy portfolio. The result has been an Environmental Protection Agency that has been openly hostile toward a legal and longstanding American business that provides about 40 percent of the nation's electric needs.

The warning signs were there. Consider then-candidate Obama's statement to the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board in January 2008:

"If somebody wants to build a coal-fired power plant, they can. It's just that it will bankrupt them."

Back then, Obama was set on cap-and-trade legislation.

When that failed in Congress, his administration's EPA took over, imposing its own carbon reduction standards. Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune has said those new limits "will make it nearly impossible to build a new coal plant."

Meanwhile, the EPA has made it more difficult for the coal industry to get the necessary permits.

One of the worst examples of EPA overreach has been its revocation of necessary permits for a mountaintop removal mine in Logan County - after they had been lawfully issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

And who can forget Al Armendariz? The former EPA regional administrator once referred his enforcement philosophy to Roman crucifixions.

He was fired for that, but only after the video went viral and there was a public outcry.

Armendariz landed on his feet. He's now - surprise - the head of the Sierra Club's anti-coal effort in Texas.

Many of us in West Virginia have been complaining since Obama took office about the EPA's open hostility toward coal, but the arguments have not resonated much beyond the coalfields.

After all, who really cares about coal except those of us who are directly impacted by the industry? The average homeowner cares only that the lights come on when they throw the switch.

But the IRS scandal comes along and now the rest of country is finally paying attention to how sprawling and intrusive the federal government can be.

As folks in the coal industry know, this is nothing new.

Kercheval is host of TalkLine, broadcast by the MetroNews Statewide Radio Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The show can be heard locally on WCHS 580 AM.


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