Good afternoon. Thank you all for being here today.
I'd like to welcome those who stand with me this afternoon to support hardworking West Virginians across our state: Congressman Nick Rahall, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, President of Appalachian Power Charles Patton, West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney, and United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts. Those with us today are further proof of the importance this issue holds for West Virginia.
Today, the Obama Administration announced new proposed rules related to carbon dioxide emissions. These rules will have major impacts on existing power plants in the United States. This is a massive document -- and is nearly 645 pages long. We are still digesting some of the specifics, and we will continue to do that as we move forward.
We appreciate the EPA is giving our state some flexibility to design an implantation plan, but based on the briefings we have had -- including a conversation with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy just over an hour ago -- these proposals appear to realize some of our worst fears. The bottom line is: The only way we can comply with these rules would be to use less West Virginia coal.
We had continued to hold out hope that the proposals would take reasonable steps to reduce emissions and our constructive feedback regarding the impact of sweeping changes would lead to common sense regulations. Regulations which balance the environmental protection we all support with the economic growth we must maintain.
We continually hear about the flexibility given to states and we will look in more detail at what options we may have, but ultimately these rules will require a shift away from coal.
I appreciate Administrator McCarthy's willingness to allow us to share our recommendations and the devastation these regulations would cause in our communities.
Unfortunately, the proposals unveiled today fall far short of the balance that must exist if West Virginia is to continue to grow and prosper.
We gather today as a diverse group representing business and labor, Democrats and Republicans, but we are united in our desire to see our state and national economies grow.
The rules proposed today will make that exceptionally difficult.
Based on our initial review of these rules, not a single West Virginia power plant would be in compliance if the rules were in effect today -- despite the billions of dollars companies have already spent to modernize their facilities and comply with current rules and regulations to make our environment cleaner.
The rules fail to allow for technologies, like carbon capture, to become commercially viable and fail to offer assistance and incentives to further develop what could be a critical component of future power generation.
If these rules are put into place, there is no question that electricity rates will skyrocket. It means our manufacturers may again be forced to look overseas for more reasonable rates taking good paying jobs with them to countries that are not allowing un-elected bureaucrats to determine what kind of power people use.
While the development of the Marcellus and Utica shales in West Virginia reinforces the fact we are an energy state, future rules will restrict natural gas use, as well.
As Governor, as a West Virginian, and as an American, I find it outrageous that this administration would put our country at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to creating opportunities for our young people and security for our seniors.
We must have reasonable electric rates to continue as world economic power and these regulations put that status in great peril.
Carbon dioxide emissions in the United States have dropped 12% from 2005 levels, while emissions in other countries continue to increase. Even if these guidelines were adopted in their current form, and I stress that West Virginia will do everything in its power to keep that from happening, those reductions would be offset by other countries - countries that would be taking American jobs as they continue to produce electricity at a lower cost.
I don't believe it is the government's role to create jobs, but the government cannot inhibit the private sector's opportunity to strengthen our economy.
Our fight is about much more than the impact on our businesses, our coal miners, and our dedicated workers who generate electricity and power our state's economy, as significant as that could be. Our opposition to these rules is about the significant impact they would have on our working families, our seniors, and every person who pays an electric bill not only in West Virginia, but in states across the country.
These rate increases would become an unfair, unreasonable tax that would take money out of the pockets of hardworking people and have real-life, adverse consequences on our state and the national economy.
Again, it will take time to review these rules in detail. In the coming months, we will work with individuals, groups and businesses across West Virginia to understand and mitigate the impact these new rules will have.
My administration certainly will provide substantive comments to the EPA and we encourage others to do so as well.
We will continue our efforts to show the importance of reasonably priced power generation to our state's businesses and residents.
I will bring together a broad coalition of people to help determine the impacts of these new regulations and ways we can maximize our energy producing potential while diversifying our economy.
West Virginia will continue to embrace wind, solar and hydro power, but not at the expense of our coal and natural gas industries.
We will work with business and labor, consumers and industrial power users to grow our economy and protect our seniors and working families from unaffordable electric bills.
I am committed to bringing together governors from across the country, both Democrat and Republican, from states that produce coal, and those who want to protect their residents and businesses from dramatically higher electric costs to bring balance and sanity to these proposals.
While some want to ensure these severe restrictions are put in place, it is important to remember these new proposed rules remain a draft.
We must do everything in our power to stop them from becoming final in their current form.
I encourage you to join me as we make our voices heard and do all we can to maintain the standard of living we cherish so deeply and provide opportunities for the next generation.