“Mr. President, your Clean Power Grab will devastate already hurting communities in my state. It will cause economic pain for working families across the country. And it will forever harm our energy landscape.” – Senator Capito
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee’s Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, spoke on the Senate floor today about the president’s so-called “Clean Power Plan,” which forces states like West Virginia away from affordable, reliable energy and will put countless Americans out of work. In May, Senator Capito introduced the ARENA Act to roll back the harmful “Clean Power Plan,” and tomorrow the full EPW Committee is scheduled to markup the bill at 10:00 a.m. Learn more here.
Watch Senator Capito’s floor speech here.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
Mister President –
“Yesterday, President Obama and his Environmental Protection Agency announced their final Clean Power Grab, continuing the economic assault on energy-producing states like West Virginia.
“Yesterday, Alpha Natural Resources, one of the largest coal producers in the country, filed for bankruptcy. As of the end of 2014, Alpha had 4870 employees at 33 active mines and 13 prep plants in West Virginia. Alpha follows Patriot Coal, Jim Walter Resources and James River mining – all of which have filed bankruptcy since 2014.
“According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, coal mining employment has dropped from 143,437 in 2011 to 98,310 in the first quarter this year. That represents a 31 percent drop in just the last four years.
“Earlier this year when Murray Energy announced hundreds of layoffs in Northern West Virginia, the Wheeling Intelligencer newspaper reported that the impact would be mean almost $62 million in annual lost wages for Ohio Valley residents.
“Other communities have also been hard hit. Nicholas County was forced to lay off sheriff’s deputies because of a decline in coal severance revenues.
“17 coal units in West Virginia have retired due, at least in part, to EPA policies. The electricity produced by these units is enough to power 2.7 million homes. Put another way, the units already closed in West Virginia would generate enough electricity to power the entire state of Hawaii.
“These are not the same old talking points.
“This is not ‘stale.’
“This is not motivated by ‘special interests.’
“These are real Americans, real jobs, real families and real communities that have been negatively impacted by this administration’s overreaching regulations.
“People like Tammy Rowan of Coalton, West Virginia who wrote me a letter: ‘My whole family has concerns with the regulations that seem to be out of control. EPA, government officials and the president are putting families out of work.’
“Or Patrick Sparks in Warriormine, West Virginia, who said, ‘I know the EPA has been trying to force strict regulations on coal. It’s hurting a lot of people, not just here in West Virginia, but a lot of businesses are suffering from it.’
“And Theresa Simmons of Tridelphia, West Virginia. Her family has worked in coal mines for generations. She wrote, ‘My husband was able to provide for our family with just his income. We were able to donate money to local charities and help needy families around the holidays. Now that is going to be my family, looking for donations.’
“Put simply, yesterday’s announcement will make an already bleak economic picture in my state much worse.
“Working families across the nation woke up to the sad news that their jobs don’t count.
“Much has been said about the open process that led to this final rule. In fact, West Virginia, one of the most deeply affected states, was not even visited by the EPA.
“Instead, they went to cities like Chicago, Boston and San Francisco. Talk about special interests. Talk about being bold.
“The administration’s final Clean Power Grab will force states away from affordable, reliable energy towards expensive, intermittent power sources, many of which are heavily subsidized.
“It proposes benchmarks that are more stringent and less attainable.
“In West Virginia, our emissions rate under the proposed rule was to drop by approximately 20 percent. The final rule requires our rate to drop by nearly 37 percent, a drop that is almost twice as severe.
“There is no way for West Virginia to comply with this rule without very significant cuts to our coal production, coal use and coal jobs.
“According to EPA’s own calculations, the final rule is worse for coal than the proposed rule. Coal’s share of electricity generation drops to 27 percent by 2030 under the final rule – compared to 39 percent in 2014.
“If this misguided final rule is ever implemented, pain will be felt by all Americans with fewer job opportunities, higher power bills and less reliable electricity.
“Studies of the proposed rule projected that the Clean Power Plan will increase electricity prices in West Virginia by between 12 and 16 percent. The final rule will likely be no different.
“What does that mean for American jobs?
“A recent study by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association found that even a 10 percent increase in electricity prices would mean 1.2 million jobs lost.
“Roughly half a million of these job losses would be in rural communities like those throughout West Virginia.
“Put simply, affordable energy matters. Especially to those who the administration says incorrectly will benefit most from this rule – low and middle income Americans.
“More than half of West Virginia’s households take home an average of less than $1900 a month and already spend 17 percent of their after tax income on energy.
“These families are especially vulnerable to the price increases that will result from the Clean Power Grab.
“While states are given additional time to comply under the final rule, this does not change the fact that the EPA is picking winners and losers in the energy economy.
“And the losers will be the American families who rely on affordable and reliable energy.
“We can innovate for the future, but not with a sledgehammer bearing down on us.
“Thankfully there are several legislative options Congress can pursue to challenge this rule.
“Tomorrow, the Environment and Public Works Committee will mark up my legislation, the ARENA Act.
“Let me explain what the ARENA Act does:
“This bipartisan legislation would empower states to protect families and businesses from electricity rate increases, reduced electric reliability and other harmful effects of the Clean Power Plan. It will force EPA to reconsider this misguided rulemaking.
“The ARENA Act holds the EPA accountable by requiring the agency to issue state-specific model plans demonstrating how each state will meet the required reductions under the rule. It gives states the ability to opt if the plan hinders economic growth.
“For existing power plants, the ARENA Act delays implementation of the Clean Power Plan until courts determine the legality of the rule. Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that EPA unlawfully failed to consider costs when formulating its MATS regulation.
“Because the rule went forward while it was still being litigated, millions of dollars were spent to comply with a rule that was ultimately deemed illegal.
“States should not be forced to proceed until the legality of the rule has been determined. And I hope that many states will follow Leader McConnell’s suggestion and delay implementation of this rule until the legal process is complete.
“Mr. President, your Clean Power Grab will devastate already hurting communities in my state.
“It will cause economic pain for working families across the country.
“And it will forever harm our energy landscape.
“The proposed rule was bad. The final rule announced yesterday is even worse, doubling down on the destruction of our energy economy.
“There is no question that we must take steps to protect our environment, but it simply cannot be at the expense of our families.
“We can do better. Let Congress, the elected representatives, make these decisions. That’s the way it should be.
“I ask my colleagues to join me by supporting the ARENA Act and sending these overreaching EPA regulations back to the drawing board.”