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Mr. JOHNSON of Ohio. Mr. Chairman, I thank the chairman for yielding me the time.
My colleague just commented on the Bush administration's rewrite of the Stream Buffer Zone rule that took 5 years. He qualified that as a ``midnight rewrite.'' My goodness, that was a really long night. It took 5 years to do it.
Today, I rise in strong support of legislation that I've sponsored to stop the administration's job-destroying war on coal. This legislation is in direct response to the President's ongoing rewrite of the Stream Buffer Zone rule, a rule that, according to the administration's own estimates, would cost at least 7,000 direct jobs and potentially tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs.
Mere days after assuming office, President Obama set out to rewrite this rule that will cost tens of thousands of jobs, cut coal production by up to 50 percent in America, and cause electricity rates to skyrocket even higher than the President has already pushed them.
As we all know, the average utility bill for the middle class has risen over $300 a year because of this President's radical environmental policies. The last thing the middle class needs is their utility bills to go even higher. However, if the story ended there, it would be bad enough, but it doesn't end there. It actually gets much worse.
The President's administration has deliberately tried to hide the truth about the cost of this rule to the American public. In fact, a Presidential appointee asked the contractors working on the rule to lie about the job loss numbers so the administration could convince the American public that this rule was good public policy. Thankfully, the contractors were men and women of character and would not lie for the administration. The President's administration then fired those contractors.
The Natural Resources Committee has subpoenaed the administration for documents and audio recordings relating to the rule. Not surprisingly, as we have seen many times before, the President has failed to live up to his campaign promise of leading the most open and transparent government ever, because he has not allowed the administration to turn over the documents that we've asked for because he knows they will hurt his reelection prospects.
This legislation is not about a sloppy and unethical rules process. This legislation is about saving tens of thousands of jobs for hardworking Americans, and it's about providing reliable and affordable energy resources for hardworking taxpayers and businesses all across America.
Throughout the country, hardworking coal miners and utility plant workers are losing their jobs because of this President's radical environmental policies. Just this week, hundreds of coal miners were told they would lose their jobs because of the President's anticoal stance. Just today, a utility company announced that they would close a coal-fired power plant and hundreds more workers would lose their jobs. These job losses are in addition to the thousands of Ohioans in eastern and southeastern Ohio that have lost their jobs because of the President's radical policies.
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Mr. JOHNSON of Ohio. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for yielding.
You know, it absolutely amazes me that our colleagues on the opposite side of the aisle can honestly, and with a straight face, stand up and say that this Republican-led House has not put forth jobs bills. There have been 40 jobs bills sent to the Senate from this House already. This is another jobs bill that is prepared to be sent to the Senate.
I want to also remind my colleague that the Stream Buffer Zone rule that we're talking about here today, it took 5 years to put that rule in place. The administration went after that rule with a vengeance, without even seeing what the rule would do in terms of providing the protections that they're so adamantly arguing about right now.
Instead, they used an environmental lawsuit to go after the coal industry and to undermine job creators all across America, and it's driving up America's energy prices. It's irresponsible. It's wrong. This amendment is only meant to distract the public from the job-killing policies of this administration.
The gentleman from Massachusetts knows all too well that SMCRA was not written nor intended to deal with health issues. The gentleman's amendment would change the stated goal and reason for SMCRA completely and would duplicate laws and mandates that are already in the Federal code.
The other side of the aisle also seems to think that they are the only Members of this body that are concerned about public health and the environment. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I grew up on a two-wheel wagon rut mule farm, and I know the importance of having a clean and vibrant environment. I also have kids and grandkids, and I want to ensure that our generation leaves them with an environment healthier than the one our generation inherited; however, this legislation today is about balancing job creation and economic prosperity with sensible environmental regulations. This amendment does neither of those things, and I urge all of my colleagues to defeat this amendment.
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Mr. JOHNSON of Ohio. I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for yielding me the balance of the time.
It is mindboggling to sit here and listen to this. I've got to remind us again that we are talking about an administration that before they even came into office said they were going to bankrupt the coal industry. That's one promise that they have kept. It's an administration whose Vice President said in 2007 that coal is more dangerous than high fructose corn syrup and terrorists. That's the kind of reasoning that we are getting out of this administration.
My colleague was quick to try and hold a math class here. Let's talk about a different set of numbers.
Let's talk about the 7,000 direct jobs that are going to be cut--that are going to be lost--if this rule goes forward. Let's talk about the thousands of indirect jobs that are going to be lost as a result of this rule going forward. Let's talk about the 50 percent reduction in coal production across America when America is still dependent upon coal for the very energy that it needs to fuel the manufacturing that America does. Let's talk about those numbers if we want to talk about what it's going to do to America if this rule goes forward.
Let's talk about the thousands of people who are going to be hurt when their families don't have jobs to go to. Let's talk about the checkbooks at the end of the month that don't balance because of increased, skyrocketing utility rates, and now Mom and Dad can't pay the bills, and they can't go buy a new pair of tennis shoes because they've got an electricity bill that's going off the charts.
When we talk about something that's going to hurt the middle class, this rule is what will hurt the middle class. It's irresponsible. This amendment does nothing to move America forward. I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment.
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