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Public Statements

War on Coal

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. WAGNER. I thank the gentleman from Kentucky for yielding and for hosting this Special Order on the importance of America's coal industry.

Mr. Speaker, I rise to discuss the importance of coal in Missouri. There is no denying that coal has played a vital role in providing an abundant source of power to plants that generate electricity for families and for businesses across this country.

In Missouri, coal-fired electricity is responsible for 81 percent of the State's electric supply, and largely contributed to Missouri's low electricity rate of 7 cents per kilowatt hour in 2011, compared with the national average of 10 cents per kilowatt hour for that very same year.

Additionally, Missouri was sixth in the country in coal consumption, with 46 million tons of coal used for electricity in 2011, of which Ameren Missouri's Meramec plant in the Second Congressional District consumed 3 1/2 million tons.

Ameren Missouri, based out of St. Louis, is the State's largest electric utility and provides electric service to approximately 1.2 million customers across central and eastern Missouri, including the Greater St. Louis area.

In addition to the consumption of coal, the Greater St. Louis area is also a critical player in the procurement of coal for our Nation's energy needs, with companies like Arch Coal, Peabody Coal and Patriot Coal headquartered in St. Louis and drawing employees from Missouri's Second Congressional District. These companies are among some of the country's and the world's largest coal providers.

All of this helps in keeping energy costs low for families and for businesses. More than half of American households devote more than 20 percent of their family budget to energy costs and, in this economy, we must do everything we can in order to keep the costs of electricity down.

Despite the reliance on coal in providing for this country's energy needs and contributing to low electricity prices, this administration has continually made it more difficult for these longstanding plants to operate, which ultimately threatens the industry for the future.

Existing power plants are already in the middle of meeting compliance with an EPA regulation aimed at reducing uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent over 3 years. Now EPA is also proposing to regulate greenhouse gases for new power plants that will require them to meet a natural gas standard for air emissions by relying on unproven technology utilizing carbon capture and storage.

This standard was originally designed for a completely different energy source and relies on technology that has not yet been commercially tested, with the EPA itself estimating that this New Source Performance Standards rule will add around 80 percent to the cost of electricity for a new coal plant.

The EPA has already missed their April 13 deadline to finalize the rule, citing that they are still reviewing the close to 2 million comments that have been offered on the proposal. Among these comments are submissions from 221 Members of Congress, including 14 Democrats, who all have concerns with the devastating impact that this rule will have on jobs and the economy.

As a new Member of Congress, I would like to join my colleagues in opposition of this rule. The New Source Performance Standards rule will deny economic and environmental benefits of new low-emissions coal power plants in favor of plants that rely on commercially unproven technology in order to chase unrealistic and marginal environmental standards.

On top of all of this, President Obama's nominee to head the EPA during his second term only promises to bring the same kind of policies that have shut down factories and bogged down companies with increased regulatory red tape during his first term.

Gina McCarthy has headed the EPA's Office on Air Quality since 2009, and was instrumental in the creation of these regulations that have attacked the coal industry.

I applaud Senator Roy Blunt's leadership in placing a hold on her nomination, and hope that my other Senate colleagues will also take a hard look at her previous agenda when considering her legitimacy for the position, with such an important part of our domestic energy production and economic activity at stake. The coal industry just simply cannot handle four more years of the same regulatory overburden by the EPA.

What this all comes down to is continuing to provide reliable and affordable energy for the people of Missouri and the United States of America. Increasing costs of doing business subsequently increases the price of energy for households at a time when families are spending more and more of their budget on powering their homes.

The amount that American households devote from their family budget to energy cost is more than double from 10 years ago, and these regulations on coal have all played a significant role in that.

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