In the wake of a massive surge in wildfires across the US, the GOP has tried to capitalize on the crisis by attacking climate change skeptics and pushing legislation that would ban the import of carbon-emitting fuels, including coal.
The effort has already drawn sharp rebukes from the coal industry.
But the push for coal bans has a broader message that is likely to alienate both the coal-mining industry and its biggest consumer.
The coal industry and conservative activists in particular are using a new kind of politics to attack the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and in doing so, they’re doing exactly what they have been trying to do for years: drive the EPA out of business.
The EPA is the nation’s biggest environmental regulator.
And while the agency is generally seen as an ally of the coal sector, it’s increasingly becoming the target of conservatives.
The Trump administration is seeking to dismantle the agency’s climate and air-quality regulations, which protect the public from pollutants such as carbon dioxide.
The White House has already proposed repealing its Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.
The plan has already been blocked in the courts.
And the president is also threatening to scrap the EPA’s rule to combat methane leaks from coal-fired power plants, which could lead to increased costs for utilities.
But there’s a big difference between trying to drive the government out of the energy sector and trying to ban the use of coal in the future.
“This is a big game plan,” says Matt Miller, executive director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a conservative think tank.
“They want to take us out of coal.”
Miller, who has written extensively on coal, says the coal lobby is “very aggressive” in its lobbying efforts to drive up the cost of fossil fuels and drive down the EPA.
Miller says that it’s the most aggressive lobbying effort the coal companies have ever engaged in.
It’s trying to force Congress to pass legislation that prevents the EPA from enforcing the Clean Power Plans, which are aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
In a sign of how deeply entrenched the coal lobbying industry is, Miller says the EPA is “probably the most influential agency in the world” when it comes to getting legislation through Congress.
In the last year, the agency has passed two laws aimed at curbing methane leaks, the largest of which is a law that requires the EPA to report on methane emissions from coal plants.
At the same time, Miller points out, the coal lobbies have been pushing Congress to take away from the EPA a number of other regulations that regulate the industry, including the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act, which both aim to protect the air and water.
The coal industry has lobbied to weaken these rules, Miller explains, citing a study that showed that repealing them would lead to an additional $3.3 trillion in annual cost for the US economy.
One of the most vocal opponents of the EPA and Clean Power rules is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a nonprofit that is funded by corporations, the oil and gas industry, and big business.
ALEC, which is based in St. Louis, Missouri, is a right-wing think tank that pushes for conservative policies.
In 2013, ALEC was one of the first conservative groups to launch a campaign to defeat the Clean Air Protection Act, the EPA rule that sets standards for the use and disposal of carbon dioxide, methane, and other pollutants in the United States.
The group was also one of just three groups to try to kill a measure that would have required states to establish a pollution monitoring program.
ALEC’s main goal, Miller said, is to push “to weaken and destroy the EPA.”
A coalition of conservative groups, including Heritage Action, the Competitive Fund, the American Conservative Union, the Cato Institute, and the Club for Growth, all of which have ties to the coal mining industry, has also spent millions to oppose the Clean Energy Worker Bill, a bill that would help states set standards for energy efficiency and renewable energy.
The bill has been opposed by the coal miners’ union and by many coal companies, including Dominion Resources.
The groups are using similar tactics in their fight against the EPA rules, with Heritage Action spending nearly $100,000 on ads that have been widely shared on social media.
As a result, Miller predicts that “coal miners are going to be even more reluctant to do business with the EPA, because it’s not going to go away.”
Environmental groups, meanwhile, have been fighting back against the coal bans.
Earlier this year, a coalition of environmental groups led by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and others, including Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Oklahoma challenging the state’s ban on coal ash, a toxic waste that’s been used to make steel.
The plaintiffs argued that the ban violates the EPA Clean Air, Water,