Government & Politics

Sens. McCaskill and Blunt of Missouri disagree on Trump’s energy order

In this 2013 file photo, smoke rises from the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal burning power plant in Colstrip, Mont. Experts say the biggest problem faced by the mining industry today isn’t a shortage of coal or even the prospect of climate change regulations, but an abundance of cheap natural gas.
In this 2013 file photo, smoke rises from the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal burning power plant in Colstrip, Mont. Experts say the biggest problem faced by the mining industry today isn’t a shortage of coal or even the prospect of climate change regulations, but an abundance of cheap natural gas. Associated Press file photo

Missouri’s two U.S. senators are split on President Donald Trump’s latest executive order, which rolls back environmental regulations adopted under his predecessor.

The order, which Trump signed Tuesday, initiates a review of former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, relaxes emissions standards and rescinds a moratorium on coal mining on federal lands.

Trump and his supporters say that the order will boost jobs in the coal industry, but Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, was skeptical of that notion in a phone call with reporters Tuesday.

“I disagree with the action the president is taking. Frankly, the pressure on coal and coal jobs has come more from the competition from natural gas…and also from technology,” McCaskill said before the order had been officially signed. “I don’t think this is a panacea for coal miner jobs, and I do think that most Missourians understand that if we turn back our efforts on carbon capture then we are doing our agricultural economy a disservice.

“I hope the president is as focused on the coal miners’ pensions and health care as he is in making them promises that aren’t going to come to fruition in terms of a big uptick in coal miners’ jobs.”

Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, on the other hand, praised the order, noting in a release that Missourians have historically relied on coal for the bulk of their electricity.

“The so-called Clean Power Plan is one of the most glaring examples of executive overreach under the Obama administration, and it needs to go,” Blunt said in a statement. “I’m glad we now have an administration that backs an all-of-the-above energy policy that will boost energy-intensive sectors, like manufacturing and agriculture, and make it easier for hardworking families to make ends meet.”

Blunt, who blamed environmental regulations for increases in utility bills, said that the order “is an important step toward protecting low and middle-income Americans who can least afford higher costs on everything from gas to groceries.”

Sen. Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, also applauded Trump's decision "to roll back burdensome Obama-era regulations,” calling the announcement "good news for energy consumers and the economy.”

Bryan Lowry: 816-234-4077, @BryanLowry3

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