Good morning and thank you for inviting me to speak at this listening session, which will have profound implications for Gillette, and the nation as a whole. I’d like to thank the representatives from the EPA who are here today to listen to important testimony from the people of Wyoming. I’d also like to thank EPA Administrator Pruitt, who accepted the Congressional delegation’s invitation to tour coal country in our state later this week.
I can think of no better place than my hometown to highlight the enormous benefits of fossil fuel production, particularly coal. Powder River Basin coal is the cleanest, most affordable, and most abundant coal in the nation. Wyoming supplies roughly 41 percent of the nation’s coal, most of which comes from right here in this county. In Campbell County, you can see the positive effects of the coal industry everywhere you look. Revenues from coal production fund around 70 percent of the state’s budget, which translates into funding for public schools, roads, and important public service projects. One thing you won’t see in Campbell County are coal mines that are bad neighbors. Here, our air is clean, our water is fresh, and contrary to what some in San Francisco might think, we don’t walk around covered in coal dust.
As the former Mayor of Gillette, I know firsthand the environmental track record of these mines. I may be the only Member of Congress to ever read an Environmental Impact Statement front to back, because I helped all of the mines get permitted during my time as mayor. Our award-winning mines are industry leaders in reclamation standards and best practices. I frequently say that if a picture is worth a thousand words, then actually being there is worth more than a thousand pictures. I hope that as the EPA personnel listen to this testimony and see the pristine environment in Gillette, they will be able to dispel the negative and wrong misconceptions of coal that were at the heart of the Obama Administration’s push for the Clean Power Plan.
While there are many issues with the Clean Power Plan, I’d like to highlight three of them today: it is bad for Wyoming, it is unnecessary and overly burdensome, and it oversteps the EPA’s authority.
Under the Clean Power Plan, Wyoming would have had to reduce our emissions by 44 percent by 2030, the third largest reduction by percentage in the nation.
In a study conducted by the University of Wyoming, researchers analyzed the draft Clean Power Plan, which was less stringent than the final plan. According to their calculations, even the most favorable scenarios would have resulted in decreases of coal production by 32% in 2025. The best-case scenario they projected would have resulted in a loss of over 7,000 jobs in the state, and the elimination of 1 in 10 jobs in the Powder River Basin. This analysis was confirmed in a peer-reviewed journal published in 2016, which estimated a 3 percent reduction in employment statewide based on this data and data from the Energy Information Administration. By 2030, researchers also estimated a 36-46 percent decrease in revenue from coal and natural gas. Keep in mind, these are all best case scenarios for a less stringent rule than what the EPA finalized.
Beyond lost jobs and lost revenue, the rule would have also harmed Wyoming’s electricity customers. Wyoming currently receives 90 percent of our electricity from coal-fired power plants. The Clean Power Plan would have forced Wyoming to make a radical change in our electricity consumption, paid for by customers across the state. Wyomingites depend on reliable and affordable energy. Families shouldn’t have to worry about whether they can keep their lights on because of onerous regulations imposed by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.
The second reason we should repeal the Clean Power Plan is that it is unnecessary and overly burdensome. Wyoming is at the forefront of innovative ideas that balance environmental protection and energy production. Wyoming has even served as a model for the federal government when it comes to environmental protections and habitat conservation. Here in Gillette, we created the Integrated Test Center at the Dry Fork Station and are now leaders in testing new carbon capture, utilization, and storage, or CCUS, technologies. Congress has also encouraged CCUS innovation at the federal level. Just last month, Senator Barrasso and I helped pass an extended and enhanced tax credit for CCUS projects. The International Energy Agency estimates that this alone could increase CCUS projects by more than 65%, result in $1 billion in new capital investments, and create up to 30 million metric tons of additional CO2 capture capacity.
All of this innovation happened in spite of, not because of, the Clean Power Plan. Wyomingites don’t need federal regulations to innovate, and in many cases burdensome regulations stifle common-sense innovations that would protect our environment.
In addition, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service estimates that due to a variety of factors, including technological innovations and tax incentives, the CO2 emissions reductions achieved nationwide since 2005 already represent 77% of the reduction that the EPA expected the power sector to reach by 2030. In fact, emissions declined by nearly one quarter between 2005 and 2016. Fostering innovation and leadership in our energy industry is a more productive solution than stymieing development and choking off entire sectors of the economy.
Lastly, I’d like to briefly talk about the massive federal overreach in the Clean Power Plan. From Obamacare to recess appointments, the Obama Administration constantly walked a legal tightrope. The Clean Power Plan is yet another example of stretching the law in administrative rulemaking. 150 different entities, including our state, challenged the legality of this rule the same day it was published. In a telling move, the Supreme Court took the rare step of granting a stay of the rule while it was litigated in District Court.
After an exhaustive review, the new administration found numerous examples of how the EPA overstepped its statutory authority in creating this rule. Typically, the EPA issued rules under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act to regulate “inside the fence lines” of a power plant. However, the Clean Power Plan went “outside the fence” of power plants, regulating not just the power plant, but forcing entire states to change their energy mix and consumption. I’m happy the EPA is now working to provide certainty to states, the energy industry, and the entire nation by repealing this harmful, overreaching rule.
Wyoming’s future economic certainty, thousands of jobs, and our energy security depend on repealing the Clean Power Plan. I hope the EPA carefully takes into consideration the opinions of the Wyomingites who will speak here today and the positive impacts repealing this rule will have on this community. Thank you.By 2030, researchers also estimated a 36-46 percent decrease in revenue from coal and natural gas.