Callis, Davis agree Obama's proposed coal rules too restrictive

Callis, Davis agree Obama's proposed coal rules too restrictive

SPRINGFIELD — Environmental regulations on coal burning proposed this summer by the Obama White House are too severe, the candidates in Illinois' 13th Congressional District agreed Tuesday night.

Incumbent Republican Rodney Davis and Democratic challenger Ann Callis met in the second of three scheduled debates at the University of Illinois-Springfield's Brookens Auditorium in a forum sponsored by AARP of Illinois and WUIS-FM.

"The emissions (proposals) from the White House that he put forth are a little too restrictive to grow good coal jobs here," said Callis, a former judge from Edwardsville who has been endorsed by the Sierra Club.

Davis, a freshman lawmaker from Taylorville, has been more critical of Obama administration regulations aimed at gradually phasing in tougher environmental regulations that would achieve a 30 percent decrease in carbon emissions nationally by 2030.

"Coal is extremely important to the 13th District of Illinois. One of the reasons I serve in Congress is because I saw the impact of a signature on a piece of paper in Washington and what it had on my local economy," said Davis, whose congressional district stretches from Champaign-Urbana in the northeast to Collinsville and Edwardsville in the southwest, cutting through some parts of Illinois' coal country.

"We have to fight the president's new proposed restrictions to coal-burning power plants because if we don't it will lead to the closure of three power plants that employ many members of organized labor right here in the 13th District," Davis said, citing coal plants in Springfield, Kincaid and Coffeen.

After the debate Davis said, "From what I've been told, the new provisions would effectively close almost every single coal-fired power plant in America. That's why I'm going to continue to fight them."

Such claims have been dismissed by the Obama administration, however.

"My opponent has been endorsed by organizations that on their own website put the skull and crossbones over some of our best employers right here in central Illinois," Davis said.

He said he did not believe any further restrictions on emissions from burning coal were needed.

"We are doing our part in America," he said. "We need to ensure that America maintains its global competitiveness because a good portion of that is cheap energy."

Callis cited the proposed FutureGen coal-burning power plant in western Illinois — which would bury some emissions underground — and said that would be helpful to the Illinois coal industry.

The Obama administration regulations "are too restrictive on growing clean coal jobs here," she said.

"Everyone knows that there is manmade climate change, but I think that we can work together instead of having one issue on one side, using words like 'war on coal,'" Callis said. "I think it's time that we start joining together to get things done for the betterment of the people of our district."

Also Tuesday night, Callis said she favored repealing the North America Free Trade Agreement, passed during the Clinton administration.

"I just thought that it hurts labor too much and that's what I've heard from our labor unions. I think we need to strengthen our labor unions in our country," she said.

Davis said free trade agreements have benefited the country.

"I think a lot of jobs that have been created in America and have allowed us to have an opportunity to be more competitive globally have been created because of our ability to have free trade agreements and fair trade," he said.

Fact check: Davis on Pell grants

In last week's televised debate between Davis and Callis, Davis implied that he had not voted this year for Congressman Paul Ryan's budget plan that froze Pell grant funding for the next decade.

He pointed to a vote two years earlier, before he was a congressman and said, "That was a much different budget than the one that I supported that balances in 10 years."

In fact, the Ryan budget that Davis voted for last April — and which the House approved 219-205 — would have frozen Pell grants for the next 10 years. Pell grants are federal grants awarded to millions of college students every year.

Ryan admitted so in a House floor speech on April 8: "CBO says that the Pell grant is going bankrupt. It is going to face a fiscal shortfall in 2016 and every year thereafter. So instead of making all these Pell promises that the government has no way of keeping, the budget maintains the current Pell award, $5,730, throughout each of the next 10 years and funds it."

Later in the debate last week Davis said, "When you talk about cuts, only in Washington, D.C., can zero growth in a vision document be considered a cut."

Davis also said during the debate that he supported a Ryan-Murray bipartisan appropriations package that increased Pell grant funding.

That, too, is true. Davis was among 169 House Republicans to support the budget agreement, which was approved by the full House. Some conservative groups opposed the budget agreement, and 62 House Republicans voted against it.

The bipartisan agreement passed the Senate, 64-36.

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Tags (1):2014 election

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STM wrote on October 22, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Great, coal mines employ dozens and adversely effect the lives of thousands (locally) and billions (globally).  Meanwhile, every day, the sun dumps millions of years worth of free energy on the planet.  Any coal regulation that doesn't ban its' use outright, is insufficient.  Politicians can't see any further than their campaign war-chests.