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Public Statements

Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


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

My amendment is very simple. It's a single line that adds, at line 15, ``including the health effects associated with the regulatory costs.''

It's a simple principle. Regulations cost money to implement. No one will dispute that. In fact, when the EPA or any other Federal agency wants to issue a new regulation, it's legally obligated to let Americans know both the costs and the benefits of these proposed rules. However, due to a narrow interpretation of this obligation, the EPA often avoids measuring all aspects of the full costs of its proposed regulations, including the impact of jobs lost and the adverse health effects of those lost jobs.

Why is this important? I'm a doctor, and there's near universal agreement among doctors, scientists, and statisticians that joblessness and higher energy prices result in negative health outcomes--including suicide, respiratory illness, and a much higher likelihood of early deaths.

Despite this, the EPA never admitted that there was a simple negative health effect resulting from its heavy-handed air quality regulations.

Dr. Harvey Brenner of the University of North Texas has found that a substantial reduction in coal-powered electricity could cause between 170,000 and 300,000 premature deaths.

A 2011 study by the Stony Brook University found that the risk of premature death was 63 percent higher for people who experienced an extended period of unemployment.

According to a 2012 report by the American Legislative Exchange Council, Michigan will rank as the fifth worst hit State impacted by the EPA's most recent onslaught. Total job losses in the State could reach almost 15,000.

To make matters worse, while employment is decreasing, the electricity rates would be increasing, potentially by as much as 30 percent. Not only would EPA regulations be responsible for Michigan residents losing their jobs and paying more for electricity, it's estimated the State could lose $1.9 billion in manufacturing output by 2015, as well as suffer a loss of $1.7 billion in the State and local government revenue.

Let's talk a little bit more about the families in Michigan.

We know that the 54 percent of Michigan families that earn $50,000 or less a year currently spend 23 percent of their after-tax income on energy and that Michigan families earning $10,000 a year or less devote 85 percent of their income to energy.

As for jobs, a recent study on the economic impact of lakes-seaway shipping found that waterborne commerce sustains almost 27,000 jobs in Michigan. In 2008, over 16 million tons of coal were delivered to Michigan ports, most via the Soo Locks in my district.

Although the amount of mercury emitted from U.S. power plants has been cut in half since 2005, the Obama administration continues to insist on implementing harsh new regulations that will not only increase energy prices, but they allow marginal benefits. For example, the EPA already admits that virtually all, more than 99 percent of the claimed benefits of the Utility MACT rule will come from reductions in particulate matter that is already regulated under separate regulations.

Families in my district simply can't afford these burdensome regulations, and they deserve an administration that will be truthful about the real economic and health impact of any regulations they propose.

I urge Members to support my amendment which, again, is simple. The underlying bill creates an interagency committee to assess the cumulative impacts of current and pending environmental regulations. My amendment would simply require this committee to evaluate the health effects associated with the regulatory costs.

Like everyone, I want clean air and water. I grew up on the Great Lakes. I believe those of us who call northern Michigan ``home'' are blessed to live near three of the five Great Lakes. Anyone who visits our area is able to enjoy the clear blue waters of our vast lakes that stretch from horizon to horizon. I would never vote for a bill that would endanger such a national treasure.

My friends across the aisle will make all kinds of claims, but the truth is this: This bill does not affect the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate mercury and other hazardous air pollutants but, rather, will help ensure that those regulations are cost effective and use improved processes.

Right now, my constituents need jobs, not more regulations. Our Federal agencies need to consider the full costs, both health and economic, of proposed regulations.

Mr. Chairman, I thank you for my time, and I urge my colleagues to vote for my amendment and the underlying bill.

I reserve the balance of my time, if there's any left.


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