This excerpt is adapted from the new book Struggling for Air: Power Plants and the “War on Coal.”

To Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, the threat was clear: “Mr. Speaker, there is a war being waged on energy and on coal in this country. But it’s not coming from another country, it is coming from our own government.” Her colleague Mike Pompeo of Kansas agreed: “President Obama’s war on coal means fewer jobs and higher energy costs for Americans.” Those who believed otherwise, West Virginia Rep. David McKinley warned, were “in dangerous denial.”

It was Sept. 20, 2012, two months before a presidential election that would pit incumbent Barack Obama against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and the U.S. House of Representatives was preparing to vote on the bluntly titled “Stop the War on Coal Act.” Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee called the proposed legislation, which would strip the EPA of its power to regulate coal-mining operations and coal-fired power plants under a host of federal laws, “the single worst anti-environment bill to be considered in the House this Congress.” But the bill’s sponsors argued that significantly curtailing the EPA’s authority over the coal industry was the only way to prevent the president’s war from claiming “even more victims.”