Mr. President, I rise today to speak about yet another battle in the regulatory war being waged by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Just two weeks ago, the Senate considered two measures aimed at rolling back an ill-thought rule the EPA came up with – the Waters of the United States rule. This body did the right thing in stating our bi-partisan resolve against that rule. Unfortunately, here we are again – another week, another proposed rule to massively expand the EPA’s power, and another attempt by this Administration to stomp out America’s coal industry. That is exactly what the Clean Power Plan is – a miscalculated regulation aimed at keeping coal in the ground at any cost.
This latest travesty of a rule, known as the Clean Power Plan, requires states to develop and implement plans to reduce carbon emissions between 2022 and 2030 in order to accomplish interim and final emissions goals established by the EPA. Let me clarify that, Mr. President – this is actually not one rule, but three separate rules, which taken together would be more aptly named the “No Power Plan.” The Clean Power Plan includes a final rule to revise carbon pollution standards for new, modified, and reconstructed power plants; a final rule to revise carbon pollution standards for existing power plants; and a federal plan for enactment and enforcement of the other two rules. Simple, right?
Under the guise of flexibility and cooperation, the CPP requires states to choose from two types of plans, described by EPA as an "emission standards" approach or a "state measures" approach. Some states, like my home state of Wyoming, will have some terrible choices to make under the CPP. Under the final rule, by the year 2030, Wyoming’s carbon emissions will have to be 44% lower than in 2005, which is the baseline year the EPA uses for this plan. That is more than double the 19% reduction the EPA imposed upon Wyoming in the proposed rule, which was released about 18 months ago, in June 2014. As Wyoming’s Governor Matt Mead said recently when my home state joined 23 others in suing the EPA to strike down the rule, “The fact that the agency more than doubled the damage to Wyoming in the final rule shows arbitrary and capricious action.”
So how did Wyoming end up with such a huge burden under the Clean Power Plan? Because the Clean Power Plan supposes it will achieve carbon emissions reductions from electric generating units that burn fossil fuels – coal, oil, and natural gas – states that produce those fuels are hit hardest. Wyoming is the largest coal producing state in the nation. Wyoming produces 40% of our nation’s coal – and coal represents almost 40% of the electricity generated in this country. It is abundant, affordable, clean and stockpile-able. If the power plants that produce energy from fossil fuels like coal are forced to shutter their doors or make dramatic structural changes, it will have tangible negative impacts on fossil fuel consumers. If that doesn’t alarm you, it should, because according to the National Mining Association, every person in America uses 20 pounds of coal a day.
As I said, under the Clean Power Plan, Wyoming will have to reduce its carbon emissions by 44%. But that’s not just a problem for Wyoming, or the 27,000 people who are employed by the state’s coal industry. If you represent Illinois or Missouri, you should be worried about the CPP too, because in 2013, each of those states received more than 10% of Wyoming’s coal. Wisconsin, Kansas, Arkansas, and Michigan each got about 5% of Wyoming’s coal. Wyoming’s coal was also distributed to Georgia, Alabama, Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Arizona. And if I didn’t list your state – don’t think this issue doesn’t affect you: More than a dozen other states and foreign entities got smaller amounts of Wyoming’s coal in 2013.
According to the National Mining Association, which commissioned a report on the Clean Power Plan after it was released, the plan will cost $366 billion and bring double digit electricity rate increases to 43 states. All of this because of the administration’s vendetta against coal and power plants that burn it to provide energy.
Just this week, the EPA held a hearing in Denver to receive public comments on the proposed federal plan to implement the Clean Power Plan. That’s right – even though 24 states are suing the EPA to block the plan’s implementation, the agency is going ahead with a rule to implement it. At that hearing, Micky Shober, a County Commissioner from Campbell County, Wyoming – also known as the Energy Capitol of the Nation – had a chance to speak. Campbell County has eleven surface mines that produce over 340 million tons of coal every year – the majority of which is delivered by train to about 30 states across the country for electricity generation. All in all, Campbell County coal provides about one quarter of the nation’s electricity every year. So when a Campbell County Commissioner gets up to talk about power generation, everyone should be paying attention.
As Commissioner Shober pointed out, the coal industry has historically stepped up and dealt with every new regulation and challenge the federal government can throw at it. But new technology and innovation – the type that will have to be utilized if there is any way for new and existing power plants to comply with this rule, takes time. And it takes money. Like the Commissioner said – America’s energy industry always rises to the challenge. But the EPA isn’t fighting fair this time. This rule needs to be scrapped in its current form, and that is exactly what these joint resolutions of disapproval will do.
Mr. President, I’ve spoken now about why this rule is bad for my home state of Wyoming, and why it’s bad for any state that consumes fossil fuels. But I would be remiss if I didn’t address the reasons the CPP is bad for the U.S. At the end of this month, the President is going to send his team of environmental experts and negotiators to the U.N. climate summit in Paris. That summit aims to map out a global accord to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The emissions goals described in the CPP – which have been rejected by industry and rejected by almost half the states – are at the heart of this administration’s plan to contribute to the overall global emissions reduction.
To make commitments to our allies based on a plan that doesn’t have the support of the American public is nothing short of irresponsible and disingenuous. We are living in a dangerous, complicated, frightening world. A world that forces our nation to rely daily on its friends for priceless assets – things like shared intelligence and safe havens at which to strategically position our military troops around the globe. The very least America can give our allied partners in return is our candor.
Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.