Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, in the Obama administration's latest defensive on the war on coal, it has proposed new regulations that threaten Kentucky's 20 existing coal-fired powerplants while potentially putting thousands out of work. If enacted, the massive new regulations would prove the single worst blow to Kentucky's economy in modern times and a dagger to the heart of the Commonwealth's middle class.
Despite what they are called, the proposed restrictions on Kentucky's coal-fired powerplants amount to little more than a massive energy tax, and they will have a devastating effect on Kentucky.
The administration announced it would hold four public hearings on the new proposed regulations, and given the dramatic effects they are sure to have on my home State, you would think they would hold one of those hearings in eastern Kentucky or, at the very least, somewhere in Kentucky. But then, of course, you would be mistaken.
Once again, just like last year when the Obama administration held public hearings before proposing this national energy tax, not one of the sessions is slated for a nonmetropolitan area dependent on coal. The session that is the nearest to eastern Kentucky is a 10-hour roundtrip.
Since coal employs 11,000 Kentuckians and is over 90 percent of Kentucky's electricity, I wrote a letter to Gina McCarthy, the EPA Administrator, formally requesting that she convene a hearing in coal country. Of course I have yet to get a response. However, it doesn't appear that Administrator McCarthy is too busy to talk to some people. Imagine my surprise when I found she had time to appear on an HBO late-night comedy show where she admitted that the Obama administration is, in fact, waging a war
The host asked her this question:
Some people call it a war on coal. I hope it is a war on coal. Is it?
After a moment of indirection, Administrator McCarthy conceded that a war on coal is ``exactly what this is.'' The EPA Administrator said the war on coal is ``exactly what this is.''
Of course, this talk show was recorded in front of a friendly anti-coal host and audience in a television studio in Los Angeles. It almost sounds like the site of one of her EPA anti-coal hearings.
So why does Administrator McCarthy have the time to appear on HBO but does not have the time to appear on WYMT-TV in Hazard so she can explain her war on coal to the people it is most directly affecting? Why does she have the time to sit down with a TV comedian but not with the editors of the Appalachian News Express in Pikeville so she can look my constituents in the eye and explain how these rules will impact them?
Of course, for those of us who watch this administration closely, this kind of admission is nothing new. A year ago an adviser to the White House acknowledged that ``a War on Coal is exactly what's needed.''
Last year, because the administration refused to hold any of its listening sessions in coal country, I held one of my own. We heard a lot of riveting testimony from those in the industry and their families, and I brought their stories back to the administration where I testified on their behalf since the Administrator would not directly hear from them.
I am committed to making sure Kentucky's voice is heard on this issue even if the Obama administration doesn't want to listen. That is why I immediately responded to the administration's new regulations in my own legislation, the Coal Country Protection Act, to push back against the President's extreme anti-coal scheme. Supported by the Kentucky Coal Association, my legislation would require that the following simple but important benchmarks be met before the rules take effect.
Here is what it would do: No. 1, the Secretary of Labor would have to certify that the rules would not generate loss of employment.
No. 2, the Director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office would have to certify the rules would not result in any loss in American gross domestic product.
No. 3, the Administrator of the Energy Information Administration would have to certify the rules would not increase electricity rates.
And No. 4, the Chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the president of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation would have to certify that electricity delivery would remain reliable. That is it.
My legislation is plain common sense, and I urge the majority leader to allow a vote on my legislation.
I yield the floor.
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