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Public Statements

Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


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

I rise in opposition to the gentlelady's amendment because it strikes an important provision in the bill that streamlines the section 404 permit process, not just for coal operations, but also for billions of dollars of economic activity in this Nation.

One of the loudest complaints we hear in Congress is how long it takes
the Federal Government to reach determination on permit requests. The Army Corps of Engineers is the lead Agency responsible for concluding the section 404 permit determinations. But the Clean Water Act requires the Corps to seek consultation with other Agencies like the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Sadly, all too often, this consultation is where the needless delays occur, not because of the Corps' inaction, but because of the failure of the other agencies to provide timely information. This section, title V, simply sets a more reasonable timeframe for Federal agencies to get information to the Corps so a permit decision can be made in a timely manner.

To many of us, it is strange to see this amendment from those who purport to extol the virtues of Big Government since this amendment makes it clear they don't believe Big Government is competent enough to reach a decision in a reasonable amount of time.

This section of title V, the language which has already passed the House in a resounding bipartisan majority, will streamline the time for the consuming permit application process and ensure that $220 billion in annual economic activity associated with section 404 activities does not grind to a halt. Time is money, and this is about jobs. The slower the time it takes to get these permits done, it holds up economic job activity and the creation of jobs all across America in all sectors. I urge all Members to oppose the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. GIBBS. I rise in strong support of the amendment. I chair the committee. We had the hearings on this issue. And let's get straight what this issue is. His amendment stops a revocation of a permit after it's been issued. And what the gentleman just referred to is a permit. During the application process the law allows the EPA to veto a permit. But after it's been approved, this amendment takes care of not being able to revoke it years later, in the instance that it was done.

Keep in mind, the revocation that occurred was not because they were in violation of the permit. It was nothing but political theater. There was no violation of the permit. The State of West Virginia EPA stated that and the Army Corps said there was no violation of permit. This is revocation that sets a bad dangerous, precedent to economic growth in our country.


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