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Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. I thank the gentlelady from West Virginia. Thank you also for your tireless advocacy for coal as we are here fighting the war on coal.

It's interesting. I remember when I was attending college at Wheeling Jesuit University. Oftentimes, for charitable activities, we'd go into the mountains of Appalachia and help families where coal mines had shut down because they were played out, and we'd seen the incredible poverty there. We also know that, over the last century, miners toiled for years in those coal patch towns and tried to make things safer, and they accomplished that. They worked for better wages, and they accomplished that. Now they're fighting for their very existence and their jobs and livelihoods.

To add to what you're saying about the jobs here, this is not just coal miners. It's the manufacturers who make the longwall equipment--the continuous miners, the rails, the wire, the ventilators, the elevators, the safety equipment. They are fighting for their jobs. It's the railroads, the trucks, the barges, the workers who make the rails, the hopper cars, the barges, the trucks who are there, fighting for their jobs.

Where will they go? Really, this is not just an attack on some of the power plants. We may lose 175 or so initially. The goal is to shut down 400 power plants altogether. What will happen then?

Now, this keeps the President's pledge that, if you want to use coal, it will bankrupt you, but it's also going to bankrupt these families when they can't pay their bills when their electric rates go up. They're already paying $3,000 more per year for their gasoline for their cars. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told the Democratic National Convention:

Under President Obama's leadership, the U.S. moved forward with an all-of-the-above energy strategy--oil, gas, nuclear, hydro, biofuels, wind, geothermal, solar. All of it, he said. What's missing is coal.

If we're not going to build a new power plant, that's also jobs not just for the miners. It means no jobs for the boilermakers, the electrical workers, the ironworkers, the steamfitters, the plumbers, the insulators, the carpenters, the laborers, the operating engineers, the cement masons, and the steelworkers. That means, down in southwestern Pennsylvania, in Greene County, where 43 percent of their income is coal, they won't have that income. Washington County will also suffer, and so many Americans will suffer.

We need to be investing in new technologies to clean up coal and to clean up these power plants and rebuild them, not to shut them down.

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Mr. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. I'll add a story here.

I remember back in the 1970s, in Buffalo Creek, West Virginia, where a dam broke and wiped out the town. I remember going there to work with the Red Cross. In the late evening at Van High School, I was talking to a gentleman who had lost his home. He had said that, before the dam broke, the police had come down the street, and they'd said, Leave your homes. The dam has broken. He said he grabbed his kids, and they ran up the hill as fast as they could. As fast as he could run, the water was at his feet, and when he turned around, his home was gone; the town was gone; there was nothing left.

In the darkness of that classroom late at night, I could hear him beginning to cry, and I said, But you have your family.

He said, I know, and there is someone else in this town who has lost everything. He even lost his family.

I said, Well, prayers and good luck helped you.

He said, No. It was also the fact that we heard the same warnings. The difference was I listened, and he did not.

We are at that same point, too. We are hearing about the existence of towns all throughout Appalachia and all throughout this Nation. We need to be mining American coal and using our ingenuity to clean it up, not shut it down, to help all these towns, to help the schools, and to help those families.

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