Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I might say we have a genuine emergency in Kentucky--a depression in eastern Kentucky--as a result of what this administration has done and is about to further do this very week, directed at the jobs and livelihood of my constituents. So it is for us a genuine emergency.
The EPA is due this week to announce regulations capping carbon emissions on new coal-fired powerplants. It is just the latest administration salvo in its never-ending war on coal, a war against the very people who provide power and energy for our country. The EPA has already stifled the permitting process for new coal mines. The Agency has done this so dramatically that they have effectively shut down many coal mines through illegitimate, dilatory tactics.
The EPA's actions ignore the thousands of people in my home State of Kentucky who depend on the coal industry for their livelihoods. Kentucky's own Jimmy Rose, a veteran and former coal miner, said it best in the title to his song: ``Coal Keeps the Lights On.'' Coal keeps the lights on.
In the year President Obama took office, there were over 18,600 employed in the coal industry in my State. Over 18,600 Kentuckians were employed in the coal industry in my State the year President Obama took office. But as of September 2013--this month--the number of persons employed in Kentucky coal mines is down to 13,000.
That is 18,600 when the President took office; 13,000 today employed in coal mines in my State.
The picture is actually getting worse instead of better. This week a major employer announced 525 layoffs in eastern Kentucky mines. This news ironically came out on the same day the President announced that his proposals, according to him anyway, are helping to strengthen the economy. Try and tell that--try and tell that--to the hard-working coal miners in eastern Kentucky that this is a way to strengthen the economy. These people are now trying to figure out how to feed their families and pay their bills.
Kentucky coal miners have suffered far too much already. Congress cannot idly sit by and let the EPA unilaterally destroy a vital source of energy and a vital source of employment. That is the reason I sought a few moments ago to bring up and pass the Saving Coal Jobs Act. Saving coal jobs is the single most important accomplishment in the near term for the people of Kentucky. It is a combination of two bills, both of which have languished in committee for literally months.
The bill would essentially repeal the administration's declaration of war against coal. The first part of the bill would prevent the EPA from regulating carbon on new and existing coal plants; the second would force the EPA to stop stalling on mining permits.
It is time to act on the Saving Coal Jobs Act. The time to act is now. This is a genuine emergency in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.