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Public Statements

War on Coal

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. RAHALL. Thank you, Mr. Barr. I appreciate very much your giving this Special Order for a discussion of America's most plentiful, most economic, efficient domestic energy resource we have, that being coal.

I also come from the great State of West Virginia, a State that is proud of its heritage of mining coal--proud of its coal miners, number one, those individuals who go beneath the bowels of the Earth to extract the energy that has fueled the industrial revolution in this country. They are brave, courageous individuals. Every one of us is concerned every day about their safety, number one, their health, and their retirement benefits for themselves and their families. Yes, coal is a valuable natural resource, but our number one natural resource is the coal miner, himself or herself. So we thank them for what they do. They are courageous individuals.

My district is both surface and deep mined. We can do both in a very environmentally sane manner, a manner which produces jobs for our people, produces energy for our country, and at the same time does restore our environment and make it a beautiful place in which to work. That's why we in West Virginia pride ourselves on our clean environment, our productive workforce, and our high worker morale because we can do all-of-the-above at the same time. And we are for all-of-the-above as far as our energy resources as long as all-of-the-above means our domestic production of resources for energy in this country.

Coal literally keeps the lights on. Many a county commission in my district, during the downturns in the coal market, has had to lay off law enforcement personnel, has had to really trim the lighting of their public streets when coal resources are down, when revenues and our coal severance taxes are down to our local county units of government.

So coal is important. It has been, it is, and it always will be a mainstay of our economy in West Virginia. Our quality of life--indeed, the quality of life in America--and our economic vitality have long been fueled by coal, and it's something that the American people cannot turn their backs on. Yet too many, I'm afraid, fail to recognize the contributions that coal has made to our past, and certainly they underestimate the role that coal can and should play in our future.

Through decades of investment, coal has changed for the better. It is not our grandfathers' coal. It is a cleaner, more efficient fuel than ever before. And with the right kind of investments and know-how and the technologies that are coming online--some of which have already been talked about this afternoon--its use continues to improve and modernize.

Our Nation must embrace an energy strategy that encompasses a broad range of fuel choices, including domestic coal, if we are ever to have any hope of completely freeing ourselves from our overdependence on foreign fuels. This means that this Nation must acknowledge the simple fact that coal has been and for the foreseeable future it must be part of a comprehensive national energy strategy that will enable us to grow our economy, remain strong militarily, and help to influence environmental and economic challenges around the globe.

So coal is a critical element for ensuring affordable, abundant, and reliable energy that fuels the opportunities and the way of life that we cherish here in the United States of America.

So as a Representative of coal mining communities and generations of coal mining families, I will continue the good fight in the Congress for the future of coal and for the health and safety of America's coal miners. And as the gentleman from Kentucky has said, it is a bipartisan issue. I wish there were more from my side of the aisle here this evening, but perhaps they will submit comments for the Record. I do hope that many more of my colleagues that may not be with us on the floor this evening will come forth and express their support for coal as a valuable domestic source of energy.

I thank the gentleman for yielding.


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