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Public Statements

Energy Independence

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GRIFFITH of Virginia. Thank you so much for yielding as we talk about the importance of American energy independence and using all of our fuels and all of the above. I know that we all want to use all of the above, but there are a lot of people who want to put regulations so strict on coal that you can't use it anymore.

I hold up for you tonight the commemorative scissors that I used to cut the ribbon, along with a number of other people, at the Dominion Resources power plant in Virginia City, Virginia. And it wasn't 10 years ago; it wasn't 5 years ago. It was last September.

That plant would not be able to be built today if the regulations proposed by the EPA are actually adopted. Those would be the regulations relating to greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide.

When that plant was opened, they were so proud, and rightfully so. They had spent a lot of money, and they had the best technology available--the best technology available in the world--one of the cleanest plants ever opened to create electric power at a reasonable cost using the natural resources that God gave the United States of America, to use our coal supply in an appropriate, efficient manner.

Now, everybody says coal is dirty and we shouldn't use it; but we can use it in clean ways, like they're doing in the Dominion plant. I would also point out to you that as we send jobs away, are we really making any progress?

I note from one of the reports we've gotten from the Energy and Commerce Committee that at one point in time not too long ago the United Mine Workers estimated that job losses with the EPA targeting coal units due to utility MACT and tighter greenhouse gas standards could cost us more than 50,000 direct jobs in the coal, utility, and rail industries; and indirectly, a figure costing us jobs of more than 250,000 jobs lost.

That doesn't make a lot of sense because what we're doing is we're making it impossible to use our coal, where we, in fact, have the largest reserves of anyplace in the world. We are the Saudi Arabia of coal, and we don't want to use it, but many of the other nations of the world, including China, do want to use coal, and they are using coal. What's interesting about that is, when you look at that, looking at a report from the Sustainable Use of Coal and Pollution Control Policy in China, dated 2009--and this was a group of folks looking at what they can to do to continue to use coal in China; it's an international group trying to figure out what to do--they point out that, in China, the fraction of power capacity with unit scale smaller than 100 megawatts is 24.8 percent in 2007, while it is only 7 percent in the U.S. in 2007. The average coal consumption per unit powered electricity supply in China is 11 percent higher than that of Japan.

So what we're looking at is a situation where they're using more coal to produce the same power than we are, by about 24.8 percent for them and 7 percent in the United States. And when you get down to the pollution, you're looking at 30 percent to 150 percent higher than that in the United States.

Further, they go on to talk about the boilers, related to the maximum achievable control technology in boilers. And it says normally the thermal efficiency for boilers is between 72 and 80 percent, which is close to the design level of developed countries.

But, in reality, most of the actual thermal efficiencies are between 60 to 65 percent, which means they're 10 to 15 percent lower than the identified thermal efficiencies of boilers, which means, in effect, they're 30 to 40 percent less efficient, 30 to 50 percent less efficient than boilers in most of the developed countries.

So here's what we're doing, folks. We're taking the jobs from the United States; we're sending them over to China and other countries like India and so forth. They're producing the electricity to produce the goods that we used to produce in the United States. They're doing it less efficiently; they're creating more pollution. And, as a NASA study showed, it takes 10 days to get from the middle of the Gobi Desert, for that air to transport across the Pacific, 10 days from the middle of the Gobi Desert in China to the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

Folks, we have to be careful with the policies we make here. We all want clean air. We all want clean water. But we also want jobs, and we have to recognize the United States cannot solve this problem by itself. We must solve it with others working with us; and when they're not willing to start down that path and to make a good-faith effort, we have to recognize that we should be as efficient as we can be.

But we shouldn't be killing American jobs based on American energy when we know we can do it better and have less pollution than they can do it in other parts of the world.


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