Guffey Coal Acts
GUFFEY COAL ACTS
GUFFEY COAL ACTS. Sponsored by the United Mine Workers of America and guided through Congress by Pennsylvania's Senator Joseph Guffey in August 1935, the Bituminous Coal Conservation Act formed an integral part of the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration's effort to create federal regulatory power under the National Industrial Recovery Act. Intended to stabilize an historically chaotic industry, the act sought to establish price controls and production quotas; afford protection to labor; retire marginal coal lands; and, generally, treat the bituminous coal industry, a major source of the nation's heat and fuel, as a public utility. Before portions of the act became operative, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 5 to 4 decision in the case of Carter v. Carter Coal Company (1936), declared sections of the 1935 act unconstitutional.
Recast and amended in light of New Deal political victories and fresh judicial possibilities, it was redesignated the Guffey Coal Act of 1937 and easily passed through Congress. The new act retained key provisions of the original 1935 act, such as federal price-fixing and using taxes to compel compliance with its provisions. Administration of the act, embodying the most complex and comprehensive administrative power ever granted a regulatory agency in peacetime, was vested in the National Bituminous Coal Commission. Although Congress subsequently extended the act through 1943, it was largely unsuccessful. Unfortunate compromises, multiple standards, and the baffling complexities and rivalries of the bituminous coal industry, led Congress to allow the Guffey Act to expire in 1943.
C. K.Yearley/c. w.