Technically, he could have Congress vote on an act, and he could possibly veto a no vote from Congress. However, as we all know, politics are a little more complicated than that. The chances are good that, aside from the massive lobbying from mining industries, there would be rider bills attached making it a less attractive bill, and those riders would likely receive more media attention. Thus, I think he technically has the power to do so, but the probability of it happening is slim.
“[T]he power to ban” by the president is called an executive order. Technically, President Obama could issue an executive order banning mountaintop mining whenever he wanted. However, both the Legislative and Judicial branches can overturn such orders or render them virtually toothless through various ways.
Mountaintop removal coal mining is already legal. The banishment power emerging in the form of a veto, then, does not apply here. If this was not yet law, the president would be able to veto any attempts at making it law with a veto.
While not as impressive and showy as banishment, the president can enact an agenda through political appointment. In this way, the enforcement of what’s already legal can be adjusted. The outcome of such indirect use of power could result in a ban for all intense purposes. For instance, President Obama appointed Lisa Jackson to head the EPA. She’s been very open with a more rigorous enforcement of current law to do just this.
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