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Mr. WHITFIELD. I want to thank the gentleman from Kentucky for hosting this discussion about the importance of coal, and for all those who are going to participate in this discussion this evening.
When President Obama was seeking the office he now holds, he visited San Francisco and he attended a meeting in San Francisco. And at that meeting he made the comment that if he was elected President, you could still build a coal plant in America, but he would bankrupt the industry.
And guess what?
He and his administration have made it very clear, despite their comments that they support all of the above in energy policy to produce electricity, they've made it very clear that they do not support the use of coal.
The gentleman from Kentucky mentioned earlier that over 205 coal-burning plants have closed in this country in recent years. And this President's EPA recently came out with a rule proposal relating to greenhouse gas emissions, and that when they finalize that rule--they were supposed to have finalized it on April 13 and they did not do it--but when they finalize it, it will be impossible to build a new coal-powered plant in America because the technology is not available to meet the emissions standards required by EPA.
Now, let's think about that for a moment. We would be the only country in the world in which you would not be able to build a coal-powered plant to produce electricity. And we know that in China, they're building more and more every day, every week, every month. The same thing in India. And even in Germany, where they closed down their nuclear power plants, they're building more coal-powered plants.
Now, what does that mean to America if we can not build a new coal-powered plant?
My friend from Virginia was talking about, in Virginia, just about a year ago, they built one of the cleanest burning coal-powered plants in America.
I was in Texarkana, Arkansas, in December. They opened up another clean-burning plant in Arkansas. But under these new regulations, you would not be able to build any plant, regardless of how clean it is.
Now the sad thing about this is that we're losing jobs because of these regulations. But just as important, America is becoming less competitive in the global marketplace because it's increasing the cost of electricity, making it much more difficult for us to compete in the global marketplace. And the sad thing about it is that this is being done by regulators without any public debate.
It's hard to believe that a regulation administered by EPA will prohibit the building of any coal-powered plant in America, once it's final, from that day forward, unless the technology is dramatically improved. And yet there's no public debate about it. This is a decision that should be made on the floor of the House of Representatives and on the floor of the United States Senate, not by a group of regulators who determine that they want to put coal out of business.
Now a few of our friends were talking earlier in the 1-minutes about climate change. America does not have to take a backseat to anyone on a clean environment. In fact, our CO 2 emissions in America today are lower than they have been in 20 years, and our other emissions are lower than they have been in many, many years because our Clean Air Act and our Clean Water Act are working. But let's not use these pieces of legislation to penalize the American people and lose jobs and be less competitive in the global marketplace.
So I want to thank the gentleman for sponsoring this event. Let's be mindful of the importance of coal and producing electricity in America.
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