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Public Statements

Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise in opposition to this bill. The Republicans are saying that there is a war on coal, but the only battle coal is losing is in the free market--to natural gas, to wind and to solar. Just 4 years ago, coal generated 51 percent of the electricity in the United States. Now it is down to 35 percent. When you add up hydropower, the renewables, natural gas, and the other gases, you get 44 percent of our electricity sector.

Just like Governor Romney says he has given up on 47 percent of Americans, the House Republicans have given up on 44 percent of our electricity sector. Just like their politics grips tightly to the past, their energy policies hold fast to the energy technologies and the fuels of yesterday, like coal and oil.

The free market has been replacing coal with natural gas, which has grown from 21 percent of our electricity generation back in 2005 and 2006, and has now risen to 30 percent of all electrical generation in the United States. Natural gas. It's not a war, it's a revolution. What has happened is, simultaneously, coal has come down to 35 percent. Surprising, isn't it? The numbers look like they match up pretty perfectly, especially if you add up the rise from 1 percent to 4 percent of the electricity in the United States which has been generated by wind over the last 5 years. That's what's happening, ladies and gentlemen.

All the rest of this I don't understand, to be honest with you. It's almost like the Republicans are rejecting the free market as it is now operating as the country is moving to natural gas. I understand the coal State Members have to stand up and defend this change in the marketplace, but I don't understand why my other Republican friends would reject those free market principles.

Why is this switch from coal to natural gas happening? It's because natural gas is cheaper. Natural gas prices have decreased by 66 percent since 2008. It is cheaper to produce new electricity from natural gas than from coal. This isn't a conspiracy--it is a competition--but Republicans say that there is a war on coal. Well, in a market sense, that war is now being won. When I was a boy, I had to go down into the basement with my father to shovel the coal. That's how we kept our house warm. Then my mother said let's move to home heating oil, and so my father had the home heating oil come. That was a revolution. And now there is another revolution going on.

Up in the Northeast, for example, because of the low price of natural gas, 1.4 million Northeast households have switched from oil to natural gas over the last decade. And why is that? Again, it costs $2,238 to heat your home through the winter with home heating oil, and it costs $629 to heat your home with natural gas. That's why they're switching. The same thing is happening in the petrochemical industry. They're switching from oil over to natural gas. In the fertilizer industry, they're switching from oil over to natural gas. The price is low. They are moving in that direction. That's the larger story that is occurring--the natural gas revolution in the United States of America.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I just urge all of you to understand that this is not the Obama administration in a war against coal. That is not what is going on. There is a paranoia-inducing, Darwinian marketplace revolution that is taking place--led by natural gas, followed by wind--that is changing the makeup of the electricity marketplace in our country. Only when you understand and admit this will we be able to have a real debate out here, because all the rest of this is really just meant to be political, in order to harm the President in the election of 2012, when the real harm to coal is being done in the marketplace.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

With just 1 more day left until Congress recesses until the election, the Republican majority has decided that, instead of dealing with real problems facing Americans by passing a jobs package dealing with the looming fiscal cliff or providing tax certainty to middle class families, we will instead debate a bill that deals with an imaginary war on coal, fabricated by Republicans in order to justify their real war on the environment, the most anti-environment Congress in history.

In reality, this bill just represents a war on us. It's the Republicans in Congress making clear that their priority is not protecting the well-being of the American people. The Republican majority has already acted on four out of the five titles in this bill, and the Senate has rejected every single one of them. The President has vowed to veto every single one of them.

The only new title that is presented is one aimed at preventing the administration from moving forward with a rule that does not yet even exist, that would limit coal mining companies from dumping tons of their toxic mining waste directly into streams and rivers.

The ironic part is that, according to CBO, this bill won't even prevent the administration from doing that. But it does prevent the administration from undertaking any action that would ensure that mountaintop mining operations are safe for workers and safe for the health of those who live and work nearby.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to, at this point, reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

So the Republicans say that this legislation is all about creating jobs. They say that we will save money by passing this disastrous bill. But the numbers just don't add up.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, mountaintop mining has already buried nearly 2,000 miles of streams with mining waste that leaches dangerous heavy metals into that water. One study puts the cost of reclaiming a stream impacted by this type of mining at as much as $800 per linear foot.

If we do a little arithmetic, $800 multiplied by 5,280 feet in 1 mile, multiplied by the 2,000 miles of streams already buried, that's $8.5 billion. That's what it would cost to clean that up. And that's just to clean up the streams that have already been decimated.

But that's not the only cost included in this provision. We also have the cost to health, the cost to children.

Studies have shown that communities located near mountaintop mining sites have as much as a 42 percent increase in infants born with birth defects. These communities also have a 16 percent higher risk of giving birth to a child with low birth weight, a factor that is closely associated with fetal death, inhibited cognitive development, and chronic diseases later in life.

And that's not all. Communities located near mountaintop mining sites also have significantly higher rates of lung disease, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, and a higher likelihood that these diseases will kill them.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Mr. Chairman, I'd advise my friend from Massachusetts that we're prepared to close if he is prepared to close on his side.

Mr. MARKEY. Could I inquire from the Chair how much time is remaining on either side?

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Massachusetts has 1 1/2 minutes remaining. The gentleman from Washington State has 2 1/2 minutes remaining.

Mr. MARKEY. I yield myself the remainder of my time.

While it is impossible to put a dollar figure completely on the suffering that those families will feel, one study has put the public health burden from premature deaths in the Appalachian communities at $74 billion per year. Now, that's arithmetic that even Governor Romney would understand. In fact, when he was Governor of the great State of Massachusetts, he stood in front of a coal plant, and here's what he said. He said, ``I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people, and that plant kills people.''

My amendment is simple. It says, if the Secretary of the Interior is allowed to issue a rule that would protect pregnant women and children from adverse reproductive outcomes or birth defects or would reduce the prevalence of cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease or lung cancer, that that rule can go into effect.

I urge all Members of this body to support this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I actually have no problem with the gentleman's amendment. If he wants to require the publication of scientific studies used to develop regulations, I am just fine with that. I'm sure he knows, of course, that this is already a Federal requirement, but I don't object to the redundancy of an amendment's passing that says they should do something that they do already.

But I do want to take a moment to talk about the Republican war on science, because this bill that we are debating today is their battle plan. The essence of today's bill is that science and facts do not matter and that, when science and facts become inconvenient, we can just repeal them.

Take the provision of this bill that legislatively overturns a scientific finding that greenhouse gas pollution is dangerous, which is a decision that was made based on 2 full years of work and on a 200-page synthesis of major scientific assessments, including assessments performed by the U.S. Global Change Research Program and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment Report. In fact, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington recently rejected challenges to EPA's scientific endangerment finding, saying that EPA used an ``ocean of evidence'' to support its decision that it was ``unambiguously correct'' in its determination and that ``EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.''

Republicans decided that peer-reviewed science was inconvenient because that analysis was what started the pretend ``war on coal.'' So we have to vote again and again and again to eliminate all of that science.

This bill tells EPA to ignore the science that air pollution causes lung disease and that mercury damages children's developing brains. In fact, it tells EPA, Don't even look at the science; look at the costs. If controlling air pollution is expensive, then we shouldn't do it even if it would save lives. It says, no matter what EPA learns about the sludge that comes out of coal-fired power plants, no matter how high the concentrations of poisonous arsenic, mercury or chromium and that no matter what EPA learns about how these materials find their way into our drinking water, EPA is not allowed to scientifically determine that material to be hazardous.

This bill turns a blind eye to science. The only time Republicans value science is when science can be used as a weapon. When science can be used to delay regulations, when endless analysis can be used to create paralysis, the Republicans suddenly value science. The Republican majority doesn't like that every respected scientific entity over the last decade has concluded that greenhouse gases cause climate change.

Their solution: repeal the science.

Republicans aren't happy that the Secretary of Health and Human Services has issued a report that finds that formaldehyde causes cancer. Sure, the World Health Organization already determined that 17 years ago.

Their solution: We should study it again. We should allow a National Academy of Sciences review so that we can prevent the administration from taking any action to protect the public against dangerous formaldehyde. In fact, there has already been a rider to the health appropriations bill that does just that, while also stripping funding for any subsequent reports on cancer. It is a strategy taken right out of the American Chemical Council's playbook. It is act one of Big Coal's comedy of errors.

We've seen it over and over again on the House floor: first deny the science; second, delay the regulations by legislating a new scientific study to review the first science the industry doesn't like; and third, deter efforts to protect the health and security of millions of Americans by requiring yet another third party to review the scientific study that was just legislated and postponing regulatory action until after that is complete.

This bill isn't about the war on coal. It's about the Republicans' war on science. That's why we're out here. It continues unabated today.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

There is a tremendous revolution going on in the United States right now that the Kelly amendment would cut right to the heart of.

Between 2017 and 2025, as fuel economy standards in America would rise to 54.5 miles per gallon just because of those additional 8 years of higher fuel economy standards, we would back 2 million additional barrels of oil per day out of the United States. How much is that?

Well, let me just give you an idea. There is conversation about whether or not there might be a war with Iran. Well, the United States imports 1.8 million barrels of oil per day out of the Persian Gulf, 1.8 million barrels a day.

This amendment would kill the efforts, which the auto industry has accepted, to back out 2 million barrels of oil per day by increasing the fuel economy standards between 2017 and 2025. This is one of the most anti-national security amendments that we could ever have out here on the House floor. Combined with the dramatic increase in CO

2 that would go into the atmosphere--an additional 6 billion metric tons of CO

2 would go up into the atmosphere if this amendment passed. Now, how much CO

2 is that? That's as much CO

2 as the entire United States emitted in the year 2010 in our country.

If you look at these two issues in combination, you look at the fact that the auto workers endorsed the increase in fuel economy standards, the auto industry endorses the increase in fuel economy standards, it's not unlike this myth that's been created that it's anything other than the marketplace that is the problem that the coal industry is principally having with natural gas coming as a substitute across the country, and the petrochemical industry, and the utility industry, and consumers choosing it for home heating rather than oil.

Well, the same thing is happening here. Where's the problem? Who wants this change? The auto industry doesn't want it. The auto workers don't want it. Clearly it's a huge national security issue. And the auto industry enjoyed last year and is repeating this year record sales as their fuel economy standards go up.

So I would just say that if you care about national security, you really don't want to change the law tonight that backs out 2 million barrels of oil per day, that the industry that is living under the regulation supports. That makes no sense at all as we're getting briefed in secret this afternoon about al Qaeda all across the Middle East, all across North Africa. Why would we do this?

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. MARKEY. Let me just say this again, don't quote me. I'm going to
give you Dan Akerson, the CEO of General Motors. This is what he said about the standards that this amendment would repeal here tonight: Not only would it end our ability to back out 2 million barrels of oil a day that we would import from the Persian Gulf, but the CEO of General Motors says that these standards were a ``win for American manufacturers.''

Hear what I'm saying? The CEO of General Motors said these regulations are a win for the manufacturers of automobiles in the United States. It's not my quote. That's the CEO of General Motors. What's good for General Motors is good for America. I don't know if you've ever heard that. But let me tell you, he's not alone. It's also Ford, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, Volvo, as well as the United Auto Workers, the State of California consumer groups, and environmental organizations. Everyone agrees on this.

So where is the opposition coming from? Who doesn't like this? Why are we having a debate here? There's no point in trying to repeal something that enhances dramatically our national security, saves consumers--because it will be 54.5 miles a gallon by the time it ends. That means since the car goes twice as far on a gallon, instead of $4 a gallon, it's only $2 a gallon. That's a big savings for everyone every time they fill up their tank. We know that the technology is there because that's every ad that we see on television every night now. It's for the new hybrid. It's for the new technology that they're all touting.

So it's all there. The industry supports these regulations that they're seeking to repeal. So it's just ideological. They don't like the government. The Republican paradox is they don't like the government, but they have to come to Washington in order to make sure it doesn't work. Here, the private sector says it's working.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. MARKEY. My amendment is very simple: If you want to keep America on its current path towards North American energy independence by 2020, then let us ensure that EPA uses the authority to reduce demand for oil that this bill rescinds.

In 1985, after the first-ever fuel economy standards mandated by Congress were implemented, we imported only a quarter of our oil. But after the Republicans and the auto industry spent decades blocking further standards from being set, that number skyrocketed to a staggering 57 percent of our oil being imported on the day in 2009 when George Bush walked out of the White House. We were importing 57 percent of our oil. And remember, we put 70 percent of all the oil we consume in our country into gasoline tanks.

Well, 57 percent is a lot to be dependent upon foreign oil, especially at this perilous time in our Nation's history--paid for with money that supports Iran's nuclear program, roadside bombs in Iraq, rockets for Hezbollah and Hamas, and hate-filled Wahhabi teachings in Saudi Arabia.

We broke that destructive cycle when the Democrats passed, and to his credit, President Bush signed, the 2007 energy bill that included the energy bill that I coauthored to require new fuel economy standards to be set. President Obama accelerated the implementation and used the Clean Air Act to require additional reductions in demand for oil, and we are now back down to importing only 45 percent of our oil.

Got that arithmetic? Fifty-seven percent imported oil on the day George Bush walked out of the White House in January 2009 and 45 percent dependence today. Good job, President Obama. Let's stay on that path.

That was not accomplished by launching a war on the auto industry, because 13 major auto companies support these standards. The unions support the standards, environmental organizations.

By repealing these standards, Republicans have launched a war against every single resident of this country whose hard-earned paycheck gets poured into their gas tanks and have to pay for the defense budget to have all of that protection over in the Middle East to ensure that that oil from that dangerous part of the world comes into our country.

And let's be very clear: If the Obama administration is allowed to continue with all of its energy policies, we will be 95 to 99 percent North American energy independent by the year 2020. That is something we should not get off the path for.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. MARKEY. Again, let me make this very clear. The increase in the fuel economy standards that we're debating here were the fuel economy standards that George W. Bush signed into law in December of 2007.

That was George W. Bush. The increase in the fuel economy standards that we're talking about here tonight are all supported by General Motors and Ford, all the major 13 auto manufacturers in the United States. The standards that we're talking about that the Republicans want to repeal are supported by the United Auto Workers and by all of the major environmental groups.

Where is the fight? It's George Bush and General Motors and the environmental groups. You are all saying that you want Washington to work. You're all saying you want partisanship to be put aside. How can you look past something here that is the perfect example of how the whole system should work?

You know, Bill Clinton said it right at the Democratic convention. It's all about the arithmetic. The D in the automobile is to drive forward; the R is for the reverse. The R's are the Republicans; the D's want to continue to move forward. They're trying to put this country in reverse here tonight, reverse a consensus that was established when George Bush was President that we had to do something about imported oil, and this is the act that we all agreed that we had to take.

So what does this legislation portend for our country? Well, jobs saved: 1 million plus; gas pump savings: double the gas mileage means the consumers' costs are cut in half no matter where they drive in these new, more efficient vehicles; and energy independence. When it's all said in done, it's 3.1 million barrels of oil per day, and we can tell the Middle East we don't need their oil any more than we need their sand.

I'm missing something in this debate. I still haven't heard why you would want to repeal something that helps our country on so many fronts and at the same time reduces, by 6 billion metric tons, the amount of CO

2 that goes into the atmosphere that is dangerously warming our planet while America is going to sell 14 million new vehicles this year, the most since 2007, since the recession started, under this new law.

I urge adoption of the Markey amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. MARKEY. I thank the Chair.

I yield myself such time as I may consume just to say that this amendment just makes a terrible bill even worse. The bill requires a new interagency committee to conduct an impossible study of EPA rules that haven't even been proposed using data that doesn't even exist. This amendment requires additional nonexistent information to be included in the study.

My colleague's amendment would require an interagency committee to examine what he calls the health effects of regulatory costs. This is ironic since the Republicans have shown little interest in discussing the health effects of the legislative monstrosity which we are debating today.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment and to oppose the bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. MARKEY. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

This amendment would prevent EPA from using important high-quality scientific research when setting standards to protect public health and save lives. This amendment establishes an entirely new requirement when EPA sets national ambient air quality standards--the scientific health-based standards that essentially tell us how much pollution is safe to breathe. Under this amendment, EPA cannot use any study in setting these air quality standards unless the study's underlying data has been made public.

Why is this a problem? Because data sets underlying peer-reviewed scientific studies are the private property of the scientists that gathered them. In many cases, those data sets may include confidential business information, or personal information such as an individual's health records. And the public availability of underlying data is not relevant to the quality of a study. Publication of data sets is not required by peer review journals and such publication is not a common practice in the scientific community.

EPA cannot require scientists to give up their private property when they publish their peer-reviewed studies, so in many cases this amendment would block EPA from using relevant, high-quality studies. This policy has long been on the industry's wish list, and we just have to make sure that we don't make it possible for them to put it on the books as a law. This is not because of the data quality concerns or transparency concerns, but because all of these studies conclusively show that air pollution kills people, which is the very subject they do not want to be able to debate.

This is a very dangerous amendment, and I urge my colleagues to vote ``no.''

I yield back the balance of my time.


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