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Public Statements

H.R. 3409

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, today the House is voting on H.R. 3409, the so-called ``Stop the War on Coal'' bill. am strongly opposed to this legislation and joined many of my colleagues in voting against it, because it endangers our environment, the public's health, and the stability of the American auto industry.

While this bill is about much more than just coal, I want to take a moment to be clear about my position on coal: it is an energy source from our past, not for our future. We must reduce our reliance on coal for generating electricity at home and abroad. I have long been fighting to protect and strengthen the Clean Air Act.

Predictable enforcement of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act helps protect our health, keep our air and water clean, and provides regulatory certainty to American businesses. As countries around the world strengthen their environmental protections, it is concerning to watch the United States move backwards. Not only does this bill restrict the Environmental Protection Agency's power to protect public health, but it changes the regulatory process to blatantly prioritize profits over human health. It also rolls back an industry-negotiated agreement to strengthen tailpipe emission standards.

I supported many of the attempts to improve this bill, including an amendment to implement a renewable energy standard, an amendment to require a study on the public health impacts of coal dust, and an amendment to allow the Environmental Protection Agency to take action under the Clean Air Act when such action would reduce our reliance on oil. Unfortunately, the Republican majority defeated all of these commonsense amendments.

We find ourselves in this debate due to the lack of comprehensive national policies on energy and global warming. The actions we should take now would help us move forward into the clean energy economy; instead of focusing on the past. We should lead by example and enforce the Clean Air Act against older, inefficient plants to make them clean up or shut down. We should enforce the Clean Water Act to restrict or shut down mountain top removal coal mining.

When the economy strengthens, we should enact a carbon tax to discourage the production and export of our carbon pollution. And finally, we should fight for international action global greenhouse gas emissions so that emerging global economies do not destabilize the global climate.

While this bill is upsetting enough on its own, it is particularly frustrating given the work that Congress has failed to do this session. We have yet to address tax reform, the looming budget sequestration, or even the Farm Bill. Instead, Republican leadership has decided to spend this week to vote on policies that we have already voted on several times, and that have no chance of becoming law.

I offered an amendment to strike the language in H.R. 3409 and replace it with broadly supported, bipartisan language to extend the Production Tax Credit. This language would have helped protect tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs across the country, and helped move the United States into the clean energy economy. I am frustrated that we did not have a chance to vote on that important amendment, which would have created jobs in Oregon, strengthened United States manufacturers, and improved our public health and our environment.

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