The House in Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 3409) to limit the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to issue regulations before December 31, 2013, under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977:
Mr. MORAN. Mr. Chair, I rise in opposition to the Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act.
Here on the last days of the 112th Session of Congress, we are wasting time debating a bill, whose constituents parts have already been approved by this body.
We've already spent considerable House time debating all five titles of this bill.
And all five titles were rejected by the Senate and have received a veto threat from the President.
Over the past 19 months this body has cast more than 300 votes against the environment.
Just as repeating a falsehood doesn't make it true, passing a bill in the House twice in the same session won't make it a law.
When the history of this Congress is written, it will be known as the least productive Congress in a century, eclipsing even the infamous ``Do Nothing'' Congress that President Harry Truman confronted more than 50 years ago.
Rather than advance policies that would promote employment, help drought stricken farmers, even address the long-term solvency of Medicare, this House remains stuck on vilifying the Environmental Protection Agency and taking issue with its obligations under the law to protect the public's health.
This week's announcement by Alpha Natural Resources that it plans to lay-off miners and scale back coal production by 16 million tons annually may fuel the argument that EPA is somehow responsible, but even Kevin Crutchfield, the company's chief executive officer, acknowledged that the principle cause was ``the result a difficult market in which power plants are switching to abundant, less expensive natural gas.''
If natural gas is cheaper to burn than coal, then where is the legislation to ban its use?
How about a war on natural gas?
For decades the coal industry and utilities have been exempted from Clean Air Act regulations.
It took court orders for previous administrations' inactions and the current administration commitment to protecting the public's health that led to today's regulatory climate.
And, while hundreds of miners may lose their jobs because of cheaper natural gas and new Clean Air and Clean Water Act regulations, tens of thousands of Americans, this bill so callously disregards, will be saved from premature deaths, asthma attacks, emergency room visits and missed work and school days each year.
I will vote to protect the lives of thousands of Americans over the few hundred who might lose their jobs.
If the majority truly cares about the fate of these miners, then support a jobs bill that will allow them to rebuild America's infrastructure.
This bill is wrong.
It advances narrow, profit-based interests over the interests of everyday Americans.
It presumes that a cleaner, healthier air and water must be subservient to the interests of keeping this nation's dirtiest power plants and the most environmentally destructive mining techniques free from regulation.
My colleagues, it's a distorted set of priorities advanced by just a fraction of CEOs in the utility and mining industries who refuse to clean up their operations.
We can have cleaner air and more jobs.
And history provides us with proof it is possible.
It's already happened, and I credit George Herbert Walker Bush with having the courage and foresight to put his signature on the Clean Air Act of 1990.
He would be vilified by the current House majority if he signed that bill today.
It's a sad commentary to see so many in this chamber beholden to an industry that prefers to invest in the political process rather than in saving lives by reducing its life-damaging practices.
Few of my colleagues may realize that the coal consuming industries that have underwritten this assault on EPA had an opportunity to collaborate with the Obama administration on a regulatory framework.
They were invited early on during the first year of the Obama administration to sit down and craft a compliance option.
The administration had hoped to craft a deal similar to the historic deal it made with the nation's auto industry on fuel efficiency and tailpipe emissions.
A National Journal article by Coral Davenport in the September 22, 2011 issue referenced this meeting.
But unlike the auto industry, the coal consuming industries refused to negotiate.
Instead, and let me quote from the article, they:
``banded together with the Republican Party to strategize, and the 2010 midterm elections offered the perfect battleground. The companies invested heavily in campaigns to elect tea party candidates crusading against the role of Big Government. Industry groups (like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce), tea party groups with deep ties to polluters (like Americans for Prosperity), and so-called super PACs (like Karl Rove's American Crossroads) spent record amounts to help elect the new House Republican majority.