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Public Statements

War on Coal

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. CAPITO. I would like to thank the gentleman from Kentucky for hosting us today to talk about coal. As he mentioned, I am from the great State of West Virginia, one of the largest coal-producing States in our Nation, and, historically, some of the largest coal-producing areas of our Nation.

As we know, coal is a huge part of the economy in West Virginia. But we also know that energy is a jobs economy. When you're generating energy in any capacity, you're generating jobs. We have over 7.6 percent unemployment across the country, and yet we have a President who wants to pick winners and losers on the energy front. Coal has been one of the President's favorite losers, as we have seen and heard from our colleagues.

But there are three reasons I'm standing here today. The first reason I'm here is to stand up for the jobs of tens of thousands of West Virginians, whether that's a coal miner, as you mentioned, transportation, shop owner, electrician, fuel supplier, and all the different jobs that are connected with getting to and burning our Nation's most abundant resource. And I'm very concerned about it. We lost 1,200 jobs in the last quarter of 2012 in West Virginia alone.

Secondly, I'm here to stand up to the families and those who are on fixed incomes. As the gentleman from Kentucky brought up, when you think about the largest part for a senior who lives on a fixed income, the most difficult thing for them is the fluctuation in their power bill, whether it's heating or air conditioning. And when you start chipping away at $50 or $100 a month, you're going to find our seniors and those who live on fixed incomes really suffering.

Finally, I'm here to talk about the reliability of our electrical grid. If we disadvantage ourselves as a Nation, as we have been, and say no more coal generation, no more coal-fired power plants, we're going to disadvantage ourselves as an energy economy and the manufacturing jobs that come with that.

We've heard a lot about the different regulations that are out there that we've tried to battle back in the House and say, Unacceptable; you can't regulate; you have to legislative, you have to let this body, the representatives of the people, decide who are going to make these decisions. We've already had 266 coal-fired power plants close.

I know we have the gentleman from Kentucky. We've got Virginia, West Virginia. Permitting has been very, very difficult. We've got regulators who are coming in and have yanked back one major permit retroactively. After the 10 years of going through all the permitting, all of the reissuing, all of the capital investment, the

EPA comes in and grabs back on that permit. The court said, No, you can't do that. And so we have an overreaching EPA that is willing to overreach into the legal area until the courts say, No more.

Now we've worked in the House to try to stop this war on coal. We've passed a lot of things. We did pass the Stop the War on Coal Act last September. Unfortunately, the Senate did not act on this. It's sort of a bit of a repeating theme for us in the House.

But the administration is seeking to turn us away from coal and keep the war on coal and drive up energy prices. People around the world are buying West Virginia coal. Our exports in the Nation almost doubled since 2006, and in West Virginia we exported more than $5 billion of West Virginia coal. Now we all know it's going to China because they have an insatiable demand, right? Guess where else it's going? Europe, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany. These are countries that are going to use our cheaper resource to power themselves into a burgeoning economy, and we're going to disadvantage ourselves here with our own natural resources.

So the rest of the world wants American coal.

Myself and my colleagues here today can't for the life of us see why we don't have a President and an administration that believes that coal has a great future in our energy mix. He always says he's for all of the above, but we all know standing here it's ``all of the above, except.''

I always try to end everything on a bit of a positive note. And there's some great technological advances with coal. This is why I think we've got to keep coal active and in the mix and viable as our energy resource because the future for coal is very good. One of the discoveries was at Ohio State University, where they were able to do a laboratory experiment. We don't know if it'll go full-scale, but the technique would release the heat from the coal without actually burning it. So there's no carbon emission. That has great potential.

Also, in another use of coal, the carbon could be used commercially for enhanced oil recovery. We hear about all of the oil sands and the oil shale in the northern part of our country and even in West Virginia. There are technologies that enable the use of carbon to enhance that recovery so that we get more from the recovery. And I think that's something that has a tremendous future for us.

We stand here today on a united front. I look at my colleagues and I see folks from States all across this country. We formed a Coal Caucus, of which I'm the chair, to talk to our other Members of Congress who don't have this passion and realistic view of the place that coal can play in our energy future.

I want to thank all of my colleagues here for fighting the good fight. We have a lot of miners and their families, other business folks, jobs, manufacturers, and elderly folks who understand what it means to try to have availability of cheaper energy resources. We've got a whole lot of America behind us. This is the reason the opportunity to talk about these things tonight, I think, sends a powerful message across the Congress, across to the Senate, across to the President that really an all-of-the-above energy plan does include coal, must include coal, and we're going to fight like heck to make sure it does.


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