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New Energy Bill To Include Amendment Reversing Obama’s Coal Lease Block

Republicans also plan on tucking a series of amendments in the bill killing Obama’s temporary halt on coal leases, a move which could potentially turn a bipartisan bill into a political dogfight.

Sen. John Barrasso , a Republican from Wyoming, told reporters Tuesday the amendments would allow Republicans to target Obama’s job-killing coal policies. The president’s moratorium is essentially an attack against rural parts of the country that depend on coal for survival, he added.

“When you take a look at that source of energy in rural America, I think that is why so many people feel that the president has contempt for the rural lifestyle and the lives and livelihood of the people who live and work there,” he said.

“This energy bill will be an opportunity to speak out with amendments specifically related to the president’s most recent action,” Barrasso said. “In a sense, that is just going to be sending pink slips to thousands of people who earn their living, their livelihood, with coal.”

The coal industry is getting pummeled by the emergence of natural gas on one side and by stiffening regulations on the other.

Arch Coal, a coal company based out of St. Louis, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month. The company was at one time one of the largest coal producers in the country, operating coal mines in Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Arch Coal is one of a number of coal companies filing for Chapter 11 – other notable companies such as Alpha Natural Resources Inc. and Patriot Coal Corp. have also filed bankruptcy.

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