In Congress, I will promote more domestic energy production from multiple sources to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create jobs. Expanding nuclear power as a reliable and efficient source of clean energy is an important long-term goal. In the meantime, we should aggressively promote Kentucky's coal industry as a source of high paying jobs and an integral part of our nation's overall strategy to achieve energy independence.
If the United States is going to decrease its growing dependence on imported petroleum and have a sufficient supply of affordable electricity to support long term economic growth, then we must expand production of coal, the nation's most abundant energy resource. That is why I vigorously oppose the cap and trade energy tax legislation, which would double energy costs for families and small businesses in Central Kentucky and jeopardize the tens of thousands of high-paying jobs supported by Kentucky coal. The Kentucky coal industry annually pays over $1 billion in direct wages, directly employs over 17,000 persons and indirectly provides 3 additional jobs for every miner employed. In 2006, the total estimated economic impact of Kentucky's coal industry was $10 billion. Central Kentucky's largest private employer, Toyota, and other manufacturers in Central Kentucky are heavily dependent on Kentucky's low cost energy. Almost all of Kentucky's electricity (over 92%) is generated from coal. Cap and trade would eliminate Kentucky's competitive advantage and result in a mass exodus of jobs to states in the Northeast, on the West Coast, and overseas. Even worse, because other industrializing nations with inferior power generation technologies such as India and China have made no similar carbon reduction commitments, cap and trade would likely increase the world's overall carbon footprint.
For this reason, I also oppose the Environmental Protection Agency's undue interference with surface mining permits in the Appalachian coal basin. In Congress, I will challenge the EPA's authority to apply "enhanced coordination procedures" to 404 permits, which in my judgment amount to a moratorium on surface mining and a compensable regulatory taking of private property by the federal government.
Likewise, we should ease federal restrictions on domestic oil and natural gas production and make more U.S. lands and waters, such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), accessible for appropriate exploration and production.
Taking these steps will give entrepreneurs, scientists and researchers time to develop reliable, cost-effective and economically viable alternatives to fossil fuels, including nuclear, wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal and other forms of renewable energy. It will also encourage the private sector, through free enterprise, to invest in carbon-consuming, oxygen-producing algae, which in turn can be used to manufacture clean-burning biofuels.