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Public Statements

Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WHITFIELD. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I am going to say that I'm a little bit shocked that people would be so critical of this bill and saying that this bill is not important.

All of us know that President Obama, when he was running for President, made the comment that if he was elected President, you could build a coal-power plant, but he would bankrupt the industry.

Our friends on the other side of the aisle say, well, coal is having problems today because natural gas prices are going down. Let's let the free market work, and coal is losing out because of these natural gas prices.

The truth of the matter is, if natural gas prices were higher than they had been in the history of America, under this administration, if they finalize the greenhouse gas regulation, you cannot build a new coal-powered plant in America. One of the things that this bill does is it simply says, no, you're not going to regulate the greenhouse gases with this regulation.

The second thing that it does is this administration has been more aggressive than any in recent history on regulating the coal industry. The second thing that we do is we simply require the Department of Commerce to lead an interagency committee that will complete analysis of key EPA rules and regulations and the impact that they have on jobs in America, on our ability to compete in the global marketplace, on the energy prices, on energy reliability, and on the benefits.

What is so radical about that? An interagency task force to simply examine the cost of this cumulation of the impact of the regulations on energy prices, impact on global competitiveness, impact on energy reliability. What is so radical about that?

Then, finally, the third thing that it does is we say we're going to establish minimum Federal requirements for the management of coal ash. Coal ash has been used in America for 50 years or more to build highways and to be used in concrete. All we're saying is we're going to set a minimum Federal standard, and we're going to let the States enforce it through enforceable permits. Then EPA can get into the action if they want to if the State fails to act.

I don't view this as anything radical. If you go to any coal mine today, and you tell people that work in those coal mines that this administration is not harming their ability to work, I think you would be facing a losing argument.

One of the things that upsets me most about all these regulations is that when Lisa Jackson comes to testify, she talks about all of the benefits from a health perspective. I would be the first to acknowledge our air today is cleaner than it has ever been and all of us can take pleasure in that and feel very proud about the effectiveness that the Clean Air Act has given us.

The important thing today is to recognize that there are diminishing returns in these additional regulations.

If you look at the cost to the coal miner and his family when they lose their health care, the EPA does not look at the impact that that will have, the costs that that will have to society; but they look at models, and they determine that maybe next year they're going to prevent 1 million people from having asthma, which is quite subjective.

This is a reasonable piece of legislation that simply tries to slow down EPA, particularly at a time when our economy is weak, when we're trying to create jobs, not lose jobs, and when we're trying to be and remain competitive in the global marketplace with countries like China that are stepping up the use of their coal when we're sitting here with a 225-year reserve of coal.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. WHITFIELD. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.

America would not be where it is today economically without the use of coal. I think all of us recognize that.

I would like to just read a couple of statements from recent court decisions about EPA.

The court called EPA's rationale magical thinking and its stunning power for an agency to arrogate to itself. It says, EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously and in excess of its statutory authority.

The President says different things at different times. When he was a candidate last time, he said that he would bankrupt the coal industry. When he's a candidate today, he says he supports the coal industry. But his administration, through the EPA, shows clearly that they oppose coal.

The proposed greenhouse gas regulations, if finalized, would prohibit the building of a coal-power plant in America.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. WHITFIELD. I would say to the gentleman that we can accept all of the scientific evidence.

When the Administrator of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, came to the committee, she was asked the question: What will happen if other countries don't do the same thing that we're doing? In other words, what's going to happen if other countries don't regulate greenhouse gases? She said the benefits for Americans will be very small, if anything, if that happens. EPA even conceded in its own analysis of its automobile regulations that it estimates it will reduce the Earth's future temperature by one one-hundredth of a degree in 90 years.

So let's just do a balancing act here. We have a regulation proposed which, when finalized, would prohibit the building of any coal-powered plant in America, and the administrator of EPA says that the regulation would be ineffective unless other countries joined in.

With that, I respectfully request the defeat of the gentleman's amendment, and I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. WHITFIELD. I stand in opposition to the gentleman's amendment very simply because we know that the Clean Air Act--under the greenhouse gas regulations as proposed by EPA, it will be impossible to build a new coal-powered plant in America. Because of that, we're going to lose a lot of jobs in this country.

At this time, I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Kelly).


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