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Public Statements

Energy Closures and Layoffs

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, this week another American energy-producing company announced plant closures and worker layoffs, citing the Obama administration's authoritarian regulatory regime in part as a rationale for its decision.

Yesterday Alpha Natural Resources announced closures of eight coal mines in three States, one of which is located in the Fifth Congressional District of Pennsylvania, which I'm proud to represent. Company officials, in announcing the closures, cited ``a regulatory environment that's aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal.''

The decision will result in layoffs of 1,200 workers and an immediate 400 jobs lost in Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

The fact that the coal industry is facing tough times isn't news. They have other energy competitors, including natural gas, and challenges with coal transport costs, energy, and labor costs. The issue that's newsworthy is the additional burden being placed on American employers during such difficult and tough economic times.

The administration's announced intentions to eliminate coal, our most abundant natural resource, from our fuel mix, with no clear plan to replace it with any effective alternative, has taken a significant toll on employers and individuals across my home State.

Here are several news headlines of closures and layoffs in my home district from the past several months:

September 18 headline: ``Alpha Natural Resources closing eight coal mines.'' Twelve hundred companywide layoffs and an immediate 400 jobs cut in Virginia, West Virginia, and my home State of Pennsylvania.

August 30 headline: ``Another round of Joy workers laid off,'' The Derrick:

In August, Joy Mining Manufacturing in Franklin, Venango County, Pennsylvania, posted another round of employee layoffs, and 43 employees were notified they had been furloughed from their jobs. The week before that, 19 others were laid out. Joy Mining is the largest private-sector employer in Venango County.

February 9 headline: ``Local Officials Respond to Shawville Power Plant Closure'':

GenOn Energy has about 80 employees at its plant in Shawville, Clearfield County, and contributes roughly $225,000 dollars annually in local taxes. GenOn offers jobs not only through its plant but through Amphfire coal and trucking firms, which means a loss of 100 to 200 workers in it is next several years.

January 26 headline: ``FirstEnergy Shutting Down 6 Sites in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland'':

In January, FirstEnergy announced that the new environmental regulations led to a decision to shut down six older coal-fired power plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, affecting more than 500 employees.

Coal operations are closing, forcing more workers into unemployment as countless indirect coal jobs have been put at risk because of the President's unwavering commitment to end coal. Our most abundant natural resource is a source of domestic energy.

In the aftermath of all these closures and job losses in my district, along with numerous across my State and the country, it is becoming increasingly clear that this administration expects the consumers of Pennsylvania to bear the costs of a poorly thought out, poorly defined, and poorly explained environmental agenda.

But it's not just a war on coal, it's a war on electricity and jobs. The shuttering of a record number of coal-fired power plants threatens thousands of the 555,270 direct and indirect coal-related jobs that help supply America with nearly half of its generated electricity and pay $36 billion in wages.

The nonpartisan U.S. Energy Information Administration has all but confirmed the President's aggressive push against coal development with a report detailing a record number of coal-fired power plants to be closed this year, largely because of the burdensome regulations and other compliance costs. That's why this week the U.S. House will pass H.R. 3049, to push back on the President's commitment to end coal as a source of domestic energy and protect the countless jobs that have been lost or put at risk as a result of his politics.

H.R. 3049 includes the following package of bills: The Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act, which bars the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing any regulation before December 31, 2013, that would adversely affect coal mining employment.

The Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act, which establishes State-level permitting programs for the storage of coal combustion residuals under the Solid Waste Disposal Act, which is now primarily used to regulate the management of municipal solid waste landfills and sewage landed fills.

The Energy Tax Prevention Act, which prevents the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases and any effort to address climate change.

The Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act, which prohibits the EPA from issuing a new or revised water quality standard when a State standard has already been approved by the EPA.

The Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act, or the TRAIN Act, which creates an interagency committee to examine the effects of current and proposed Federal regulations on U.S. energy and manufacturing industries, U.S. global competitiveness, U.S. and energy prices.

Again, it's not just a war on coal; it's a war on the use of carbon-based fuels--coal, oil, natural gas--which supply over 80 percent of our energy.

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