Mr. President, I rise today to talk about the new regulations President Obama proposed this week that are obviously aimed at the coal industry. But let’s be frank. These regulations go far beyond the president’s campaign to put coal out of business. These regulations target affordable and abundant energy. Once again we are seeing how consumers, students, low-income families are getting priced out of the economy because of government policy. The more the government dictates and promotes a one-size-fits-all solution, the more it hits folks in their pocketbooks.
Mr. President, I don’t think I’ve ever met a single person who said they were anti-environment. I can’t think of a single person that likes dirty water or polluted skies. But if you listen to some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, you’d assume Republicans have made it their life’s work to kill the planet. It makes for great sound bites and can help rally your base. It does not, however, contribute much to the discussion at hand. Actions have consequences, and these proposed regulations will have a real, tangible, measureable impact on the economy at a time where job creation should be our focus.
The truth is that coal powers America. Almost 70 percent of all energy produced in this country came from the ground, most of it coal. Even electric cars are powered by coal. But sadly you won’t see that on a bumper sticker. That is what I’d call an inconvenient truth. If we were to shut down our coal facilities for a single day, I think even my colleagues from the other side of the aisle would be calling for those plants to be turned back on.
In Wyoming, coal is one of our largest employers. It provides high-paying jobs to our residents as it does to folks all across the country. The revenue from energy production even provides scholarships for our students to get an education. For our state, coal isn’t just an energy source, it’s part of our livelihood.
The president may want us to run from coal, but I think we should be running toward it. George Washington Carver developed over 100 products from peanuts. Think what we could do with coal if we spent more time and resources developing our most abundant resource instead of trying to destroy it. American ingenuity would lead to our next energy revolution. But that’s not happening. Instead, a project the University of Wyoming and the private sector were working on to produce cleaner energy from coal was cancelled because of this president’s efforts to kill coal.
No one likes to sit in the dark, and I imagine most folks like being able to run their air conditioning in the summer. States that rely on coal for their power see on average 30 percent lower electricity costs than states that rely on other fuels. An increase of that size would be noticed by almost everyone, regardless of political affiliation. We could learn a thing or two from Germany, who is going back to coal after experimenting with alternative sources. They realized coal is readily available and will help them bring energy prices down.
The plain fact is that this president is proposing a cap and tax proposal that failed in Congress. My colleagues then realized that it is an extremely expensive idea, and the increased costs will be passed along to consumers who must pay to use more expensive energy sources. But the fact that Congress rejected this proposal seems to have encouraged this Administration to yet again sidestep Congress and implement another costly backdoor regulation. Even some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle say they are angry about this tax imposed on the people without approval from their representatives in Congress.
I’ve heard comments about how courageous the president is for finally going after coal. It’s not like the president has ever really hid his disdain for energy that comes out of the ground. He’s been targeting it with red tape his entire presidency. These ideas are purely political and will have a heavy impact on the economy with little or no measureable impact on the environment. As The Wall Street Journal pointed out in a recent editorial, “Based on the EPA's own carbon accounting, shutting down every coal-fired power plant tomorrow and replacing them with zero-carbon sources would reduce the Earth's temperature by about one-twentieth of a degree Fahrenheit in a hundred years.”
When government tries to pick winners and losers in any part of the market, everyone loses. Just look at how great our health care system is doing.
If we as a body allow the president to get his way, we are looking at billions in annual economic losses. Hundreds of thousands of people will lose their jobs. We’ll burden our businesses with billions in costs, all of which will be passed on to consumers in the form of double digit energy price increases.
If you’re elderly, a low-income or even middle-class family, or living on a fixed income, are you willing to pay this energy tax that won’t make a dent in CO2 emissions? I can’t imagine you are. These new regulations will only succeed in making our pocketbooks lighter, and our country darker.
When we have affordable, abundant energy, America stays competitive with the rest of the world. Low-cost energy could help create more than 1 million jobs over the next decade. It can lure more investment into American manufacturing. We all say we need to put more people back to work. Driving up costs to consumers and businesses doesn’t seem to benefit anyone.
I hope my colleagues from the other side of the aisle will join me today and say enough is enough. The president is proposing to leave a permanent stain on our economy. We shouldn’t be putting people out of work or driving up energy prices. I hope every American will call on their representatives to oppose this president’s proposal. It’s our constituents who keep us accountable.
The Republican Leader has already introduced legislation to stop this reckless move by the EPA, and I am proud to join him in his effort. Our bill is simple: prove that this rule will not cause job losses, increase energy rates, or hurt our country’s economic output. We know the president’s regulations will put America at an economic disadvantage, but I worry we won’t get a vote on this common sense bill. That’s a real shame, because I think a majority of this body would support the bill and oppose the president’s proposal.
Thank you Mr. President and I yield the floor.