Disapproval of EPA Emission Standards Rule--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: June 20, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, it has become pretty clear over the past few months that President Obama now views his job as the deflector-in-chief. No longer content to lay all the Nation's problems at the feet of his predecessor, he has taken to creating controversies out of whole cloth. Whether it is a manufactured fight over student loan rates or the so-called war on women, the goal is as clear as you can imagine: get reporters to focus on these things, and maybe the rest of the country will as well; get them to focus on anything other than the President's own failure to turn the economy around, and maybe he can squeak by without folks noticing it. That is the plan at least and, frankly, it could not reflect a more misguided view of the American people. They know who has been in charge the past 3 1/2 years, and the fact that the President has had a tough job to do does not mean he gets a pass on how he has handled it or on the solutions he has proposed.

Most Americans do not like either one of the President's two signature pieces of legislation--ObamaCare or the stimulus. They are not particularly thrilled about seeing America's credit rating downgraded for the first time ever. They are scared to death about a $16 trillion debt, trillion-dollar deficits, and chronic joblessness. And many, including myself, are deeply concerned about this administration's thuggish attempts to shut its critics right out of the political process. These are the kinds of things Americans have been telling us for 3 years that they are worried about, and we are not about to be drawn into some rabbit hole so the President does not have to talk about them. We are going to stay focused on all of these things--not because of some political advantage but because the American people demand it. So the President can come up with the excuse de jour, but we are going to talk about jobs, we are going to talk about the deficits and debt, and we will talk about the Constitution.

When it comes to jobs, let's be clear. This administration has been engaged in a war on the private sector, and in many cases it has used Federal agencies and a heavyhanded regulatory process to wage it largely out of view. We got a vivid confirmation of this when an EPA official was caught comparing the EPA's enforcement approach to the Roman use of crucifixion. Brutalize a few offenders, he said, and the rest will be scared into submission.

Call me naive, but I think most Americans think the government should be working for them, not against them. I think most Americans think the Federal Government should be working to create the conditions for Americans to prosper, not looking for any opportunities to undercut free enterprise. Yet that is what we see--an administration that always seems to assume the worst of the private sector and whose policies are aimed at undermining it. And nowhere is it more clear than at EPA.

That is why I support Senator Inhofe's ongoing efforts, including a vote today, to push back on the EPA, which has become one of the lead culprits in this administration's war on American jobs. Senator Inhofe is focusing on just one regulation out of the many that are crushing businesses across the country--the so-called Utility MACT, which would cost American companies billions in upgrades, but for their competitors overseas, of course, it would cost them nothing. This regulation would expand the already massive powers given to the EPA by increasing redtape and costing the taxpayer over $10 billion each year. In my State of Kentucky, it threatens the jobs of over 1,400 people working in aluminum smelter plants, as well as approximately 18,000 coal miners, not to mention those engaged in industries that support these jobs.

Kentucky Power, operator of the only coal-burning powerplant in my State, recently conceded defeat in this fight after the EPA demanded upgrades to its plants at a cost of nearly $1 billion, raising the typical residential customer's monthly electric bill by a whopping 30 percent. At that price, it is no wonder the plant found the new regulations completely unworkable. The EPA may have won this battle, but the real losers are more than 170,000 homes and businesses spread out amongst 20 eastern Kentucky counties that depend on the Kentucky Power plant for their energy.

The proponents of the Utility MACT say it is needed to improve air quality. What they cannot tell you is what these benefits would be or the effect of leaving the plants in their current condition. Look, we all support clean air, but if we waved through every regulation that promised to improve air quality without regard for its actual impact, we would not be able to produce anything in this country.

What we do know is that a substantial amount of the electricity we produce in this country comes from coal, and this new regulation would devastate the jobs that depend on this cheap, abundant resource. This is just one battle in the administration's war on jobs, but it has a devastating consequence for real people and real families in my State and in many others. The administration's nonchalant attitude about these people is appalling, but this is precisely the danger of having unelected bureaucrats in Washington playing with the livelihoods of Americans as if they are nothing more than just pieces on a chessboard.

The media may continue to chase whatever issue the President and his campaign decide to fabricate from day to day, but these are the facts behind this President's devastating economic policies, and that is why it is a story the President would rather the media ignored. Well, Republicans are not going to ignore it. We are going to keep talking about the President's policies. So I commend Senator Inhofe for keeping us focused on this particular policy that is devastating to so many Americans.

Madam President, I yield the floor.

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