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Public Statements

War On Coal

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. KELLY of Pennsylvania. I thank the gentleman, and thank you for holding this this evening, because it's really important that we understand exactly what's going on with coal.

When America was looking for energy, they went to coal. Coal has always been there for us. It is abundant, it is accessible, it is affordable, and it is truly American. And this is the part I don't get. You just heard Mrs. Hartzler talk about the President's statement, and also Mr. Whitfield. That's one campaign promise he kept. He said, If you want to produce electricity using coal, you can do it, but we'll bankrupt you. Now, this makes absolutely no sense to anybody who understands what America needs right now, and it's jobs.

In Pennsylvania, 40 percent of Pennsylvania's electricity is produced using coal. In addition to keeping electricity affordable, the coal industry contributes more than $7 billion annually to the Commonwealth's economy. It's about jobs, jobs, jobs.

This is a President who just doesn't get it. He talks about all the above when it comes to energy, but he forgets all that's below. He turns his back on coal and looks to renewables that are very expensive and make no sense to the average American. And the hardworking American people who produce this coal are miners. We've not only shut down their mines, we've shut down their power plants, and we're ruining their communities. We're absolutely ruining communities right now.

Now, I couldn't understand what was so horrible about this product, because I heard the President describe it many times, and I grew up in a coal producing community. The Sauls were in the coal mining business, they had Eagle Coal. My friend John Stilley has Amerikohl. I have friends over in the Kittanning area, Rosebud.

But I went to CONSOL, and I went down to the Bailey Mine. I went down 700 feet underground to see this horrible, horrible product that the President absolutely hates and wants to eliminate. And while I was there, I was trying to figure out: Where is it so bad?

I watched as they did the longwall mining, how it shaved the coal off the wall. It's being drenched all the time with a fine mist, and then there's vacuums taking all the coal dust out.

I sat as far away from the machine as you having a conversation with somebody. And the guy who I was talking to said: You know, Mike, I've done this for 40 years. When I first started, I had to do it on my hands and knees. I laid on my back and I used a pick. And the reason I did that was because I was married and my wife and I had some dreams. We wanted to buy a house, we wanted to raise a family, wanted to educate those kids, and we wanted to live our life. And I did it through coal mining.

But, you know, the way it is now, this is incredible. And I stood in a room that was at least 10 to 12 feet high and about 30 feet wide and watched the coal miner, a machine, shave the face of the coal off the wall and then extract it.

Now, it doesn't make sense to me or to anybody else as a commonsense person. What in the world are you trying to do, Mr. President? In Erie, Pennsylvania--that's where GE Transportation is, they build locomotives. Now, the locomotives haul trains and those trains haul coal. And there's been a 20 percent reduction in coal.

So do you know what that did to GE? They don't have to build as many locomotives. We have 3,000 locomotives sitting idle. Why? In a country that's looking for jobs, why is this President eliminating jobs?

Now, look, it doesn't make any sense, it just doesn't make any sense. And as we go forward, I would like this President to look at energy, all the above. What would make us great as a country? Energy independence. That's what we need--low cost energy. And we have it right here, right now.

When coal wins, America wins, and when America wins, we all win. This isn't a Republican initiative or a Democrat initiative. As you said earlier, this is about America and America's strategy and America's answer to energy independence. Coal is a big part of it and has to continue to be a big part of that.

So I thank you for what you're doing. We'll keep fighting for coal, we're not going to give up, we're not going home. Mr. Rahall spoke very eloquently about it. But all these folks from all these coal-producing areas--you know, Pennsylvania is the fourth-leading coal-producing State in the country, the third-largest State in terms of coal produced by the underground mining method, and first in terms of total coal extracted by longwall mining technology. We win with coal, we put people to work with coal, we lower our energy costs with coal, we win the battle in the world economy because our cost of energy is lower, which allows us to pay higher wages to all those folks out there right now who are struggling, hardworking American taxpayers.

Why in the world would we take from them right now low-cost energy and condemn it because it doesn't meet this President's standards?

It's time for us to fight back and fight back hard, not as Republicans, not as Democrats, but as Americans. So, Mr. Barr, I thank you so much for what you're doing.

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