The following speech was delivered June 26 by Rep. Rogers on the floor of the U.S. House of Representative.
Mister Speaker, American coal families are under attack – not from a foreign power or a natural disaster, but by an Administration that has resolutely, perversely, and now overtly proposed to end coal mining and coal-fired power generation in these United States.
President Obama’s calamitous climate change plan, announced yesterday, is the latest job-killing bomb to be dropped on Kentucky, West Virginia, Illinois and dozens of other coal states already knocked down after four years of anti-coal policies. This Administration has used code words like, “streamlining” and “permit reviews” to shell our communities with regulations and red tape that even the most sophisticated businesses can’t adhere to.
Now the White House is dismantling our strategic energy advantage and unilaterally disarming our economy in broad daylight! I quote White House climate adviser Daniel Schrag, “a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.” End quote.
Mister Speaker, a war on coal is exactly what is not needed. A war on coal is a war on middle class Americans - it’s a war on jobs – all kinds of jobs. It’s already claimed 5,700 direct Kentucky jobs in just a year and a half – the vast majority of those in my economically challenged district! There is no recovery in Inez or high-tech boom in Harlan, Mr. President. My families are struggling to get back to work, pay their bills, or find salaries comparable to coal mining. And my communities are losing their main employers.
This climate plan makes the situation worse, dimming the prospects of reopening the mines even further! Moreover, this disastrous climate change plan is a plan for America’s economic and security decline. This plan will only lead to higher electric bills and increased dependence on foreign energy sources.
And to think someone has the audacity to say, “We need a war on coal.” We need a war on this line of thinking!
This Administration’s stringent rules and absurd mandates are simply meant to force coal-fired power plants to stop burning coal or shutter the facilities altogether. I call it strangulation by regulation. Mr. Speaker, more than 200 coal plants have already closed across 25 states, and now seven new EPA regulations are on track to do even more damage. I’m losing one of the biggest employers in Lawrence County to this onslaught – 120 good-paying jobs.
In total, the closure of mines, shuttering of power plants, and resulting hikes in electric rates are expected to cost the US economy some 887,000 jobs per year. Please tell me how this is in our national interest, how this is leading America forward.
In 2008, this President promised to bankrupt the coalfields and yesterday he took another step toward his reckless, shameful goal.