In recent weeks, my fellow delegation members joined our state's rallying cry in opposition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's push to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act and have signed onto legislation to make it known.
The president and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson have both stated that if Congress does not act on energy legislation, they will move forward with these regulations.
I have been an outspoken critic of the administration's use of the EPA to regulate these emissions and have signed on to House Resolution 391, which would ensure greenhouse gases -- and any cap-and-trade proposal -- are regulated by Congress and not the EPA.
Since then, I have signed on to subsequent resolutions of disapproval and have taken the lead to form the bipartisan Congressional Coal Caucus, which now boasts 72 members and is aimed at alternative solutions for sustainability of the industry.
While it is not clear yet what the exact damage will be to our state, studies have predicted that this type of regulation could result in a loss of nearly 3 million manufacturing jobs by 2029 and cost the U.S. economy an average of $339 billion every year through 2029 (Heritage Foundation).
I am pleased to see the other members of our delegation take steps toward preventing the EPA from imposing this burdensome energy regulation on our state's energy sector; however, I do not feel that my colleagues' legislation does enough to lift the veil of uncertainty for our miners and related industries.
Rather than challenging the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases entirely, recent legislation introduced would only delay the administration's efforts. The legislation would suspend the EPA for only two years from taking any action on stationary sources that emit carbon dioxide or methane.
A two-year delay will continue to stifle economic growth and job loss in West Virginia's energy sector. Further, this delay will inhibit investment in clean coal because it only worsens the sense of uncertainty about the future of the industry.
In contrast, the legislation that I signed on to will ensure that Congress will be the only authority regulating greenhouse gases, not government bureaucrats who do not have to answer to the public each election season.
I agree with my colleagues that Congress should make the decisions on climate-change policy, but we need to ensure that the policies we adopt will keep energy costs low and will not hurt energy security or economic growth, unlike cap-and-trade.
Recognizing the serious need for action, and the serious economic consequences of inaction, I have joined my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to offer the American Conservation and Clean Energy Independence Act.
Our bipartisan plan would invest in alternative energy, promote new technology and encourage conservation -- all without raising taxes on consumers.
Our legislation takes an "all-of-the-above" approach to energy sources. Using royalties generated from traditional energy sources like coal and offshore exploration, our plan would reinvest hundreds of billions of dollars in cleaner energy technology and conservation, such as carbon capture and storage and green renewable energy resources.
Additionally, our plan would invest in the creation of a Conservation Reserve, a Clean Water Reserve, and increased assistance for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
The legislation will also extend alternative and renewable energy production tax-credits through 2019 to provide predictability and encourage private investment that supports clean energy infrastructure needs.
At a time of record unemployment, we must pass responsible legislation that preserves both the environment and desperately needed jobs in West Virginia and across the country. Our obligation should be both, not one at the cost of the other.