I want to thank the Wyoming Mining Association and Friends of Coal for organizing today’s rally. With all that is going on in Washington right now, I don’t think there is a more important time to make our voices heard regarding the Administration’s new energy tax proposals. And since Wyoming is the largest coal producing state in the nation and thirteen of our top 20 coal producers in 2011 were here in Campbell County, I don’t think there is a more important place for Washington to listen to.
In his state of the union address, President Obama said that because he is unable to rely on Congress to achieve his agenda, he intends to use Executive orders where possible. He’s clearly already doing this, because when you combine his use of Executive Orders and economically significant rules and regulations, to date the Administration has taken far more executive action than President Bush, Clinton, or Reagan.
We are seeing the results of his regulatory war on energy here in Wyoming. Earlier this month the EPA issued its final Clean Power Plan rule that attempts to reduce CO2 emissions by 32 percent. But Wyoming is harder hit and will have to cut its emissions by as much as 44%. That rule will decrease the use of coal, which will hurt our state’s economy and cost us jobs. It will also drive up energy prices for every person in America so that we are left footing the bill for this multi-billion dollar regulation.
Senators on both sides of the aisle realized a few of years ago that coal is one of our best sources of energy and rejected a cap and tax bill as an extremely expensive and bad idea. But that hasn’t stopped this Administration.
And as worrisome as that rule is – it’s not the focus of today’s rally or this afternoon’s listening session. We are here today because the Bureau of Land Management wants our input on reforming the federal coal program and whether the royalty rate should be raised. I hope the resounding answer from our community is that this Administration should stop picking winners and losers in the energy sector.
According to the Gillette Chamber of Commerce, there’s already a 40% effective tax rate on coal, when you combine royalties, taxes, and fees. Our coal industry is already struggling because of the Buffer Zone Rule, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule, and the Clean Power Plan Rule. The last thing we need is a back door tax on the energy source that provides almost 20% of America’s electricity.
Increasing royalty rates won’t only hurt our coal companies. It isn’t a good idea for anyone in the United States because it’s going to drive up the cost of electricity. I recently talked to sisters who were driving from Arizona to Wyoming. They were running low on gas, so they stopped in Colorado to fill up. The power was out at the gas station, so they couldn’t pump gas or get a snack or use the restroom. All of those things – the gas pump, the cash register, the restroom lights – are dependent on electricity. Almost everything we do today depends on electricity, and coal is our most affordable and reliable source of energy.
But instead of encouraging “all of the above” energy production to keep electricity affordable, this Administration is doing everything it can to restrict production. Instead of running from coal, America needs to run on coal.
Cynthia, John and I are trying to make the Administration understand all this, and we’re making some progress with important allies like Senator McConnell. Working together, Senators were able to include language in the Senate Interior Appropriations bill that would prohibit the EPA from forcing onerous greenhouse gas regulations on states and prevent the EPA from lowering the ozone standard while many counties can’t even comply with the current standard. It’s going to take real effort to get those provisions past a Democratic filibuster and the President’s veto pen, and we need your help.
Tell your stories to the BLM today. But don’t stop there. Send me examples of how the President’s regulations are impacting you and why a back door energy tax hurts Gillette, Campbell County, Wyoming, and America. Tell your friends and family in other states to make their voices heard to the President, their Senators, and their Representatives. We have a tough fight on our hands, but together we can make a difference.