While Congress was narrowly able to reach a budget agreement for the remainder of 2011, one of our major needs as a country is not being addressed. America must have an energy policy that will create jobs here at home and allow us to declare energy independence within this generation.
We have once again reached a point where Washington's failure to craft such a policy is forcing every single West Virginian -- and every single American -- to pay a costly price.
Just a few weeks ago, I drove by a gas station in the morning and gas was $3.41 a gallon. But by that afternoon, it was $3.59. We all know this story, and there is something wrong with it.
Our nation needs to come together to craft a balanced energy policy that will create jobs and help us declare energy independence. We've got to use all of our resources -- coal, natural gas, wind, solar, hydro and biofuels.
And, we also have to make sure that the energy policy of America's future is not being crafted by bureaucrats and overregulated by the EPA. We have to make sure that this energy policy does not pick winners and losers, which would lead to serious job losses in important industries.
Just this past week, Senators had a chance to tackle some of these issues head on: reining in the EPA, limiting overreach of bureaucrats who are attempting to exercise authority never granted to them, and ensuring that we can create good American jobs.
I strongly supported and cosponsored two amendments that were considered on the Senate floor this week. One, offered by my friend and colleague Senator Jay Rockefeller, would have suspended any EPA attempts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions for two years.
The other, offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), would have permanently prohibited the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.
Unfortunately, both amendments failed.
I endorsed both measures because I believe we should do everything in our power to effectively check the EPA's power grab and start creating jobs again. Overreach by the EPA is destroying jobs in West Virginia and all over the country, and it must be stopped.
Take, for example, what happened earlier this year, when the EPA retroactively vetoed a permit for the Spruce Mine in Logan County -- which was already up and running -- eliminating good-paying jobs in West Virginia.
This type of behavior isn't fair to businesses in coal mining or any industry, and it will have a chilling effect on jobs in every state in this country.
I believe the EPA has set a dangerous precedent with its decision regarding Spruce Mine. According to the agency, it doesn't matter if you did everything right and followed all the rules -- they will just change them. Their decision has implications that reach far beyond coal mining in West Virginia.
With actions like these, the EPA is jeopardizing thousands of American jobs and essentially sending a message -- that no investment is safe -- to every business in this country. The EPA is signaling that the federal government has no intention of honoring past promises. That message will not only destroy jobs -- it will also destroy our way of life and make our nation more dependent, not less, on foreign oil.
So while both amendments failed this week, I think there are enough right-thinking, fair-minded people who realize that we absolutely must come together on a commonsense solution that will limit the bureaucratic overreach of the EPA, and I am hopeful that my colleagues and I will develop an approach to tackle this issue head on.
The bottom line is, it is fundamentally wrong for any bureaucratic agency to go around the will of the people and try to regulate what we lawmakers have not legislated. The EPA's overreach is costing jobs at home and all over this country. I promise to keep fighting the EPA to ensure that elected representatives are able to be in charge of the important decisions our constituents sent us here to make.