Matt Dempsey Matt_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-9797
Katie Brown Katie_Brown@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-2160
Bipartisan Support Growing For Effort to Stop Obama War on Coal; Inhofe Exposes Environmental Playbook
Washington, D.C. - Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, spoke on the Senate floor today about the growing bipartisan momentum to stop the Obama-Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) war on coal. Senator Inhofe welcomed the strong support of groups representing business and labor, as well as a growing number of elected officials working across the aisle to save coal.
In fact, the momentum for Senator Inhofe's efforts has grown so much that Senators Lamar Alexander (TN) and Mark Pryor (AR) found it necessary to introduce a cover bill for those Senators who need to appear to be reining in the EPA for their constituents back home, but in reality are allowing President Obama to continue to kill coal. Senators Alexander and Pryor are expected to introduce their cover bill as soon as tomorrow, but it is unlikely that it would pass. While Senator Inhofe's resolution would require a simple majority of the members present, the cover bill by Senators Alexander and Pryor would require 60 votes to pass.
In today's speech, Senator Inhofe highlighted the close partnership between the Obama-EPA and its Big Green allies in this war on coal; he exposed the far left environmental playbook - a document written by the Sierra Club which tells activists, "Don't worry about highly technical information," and tells them instead to focus on getting an emotional reaction from the audience. It suggests, "Holding your baby with you at the podium, or pushing them in strollers, baby car seats, baby-bjorns. Older children are also welcome." It also encourages other visuals such as "Asthma inhalers, medicine bottles, healthcare bills, and medication for air-toxics related illnesses."
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Mr. President, I've come to the Senate floor today with some breaking news. The momentum to stop President Obama's war on coal is now so great that some of my colleagues, Senators Alexander and Pryor, are going to introduce a counter measure to my resolution. My resolution SJR 37 would put a stop to the second most expensive EPA regulation in history - a rule known as Utility MACT. The counter measure is a cover bill, pure and simple.
While my resolution requires that EPA go back to the drawing board to craft a rule in which utilities can actually comply, the measure that Senators Alexander and Pryor are offering would keep Utility MACT in place but would delay the rule for six years. This alternative is a clear admission that the Obama-EPA's policy is wrong - but it does not fix the problem; it simply puts off the day of execution for a few more years.
What is really going on here? Since SJR 37 is a privileged motion, it must be voted on by Monday, January 18th. It requires 50 votes to pass. The Alexander-Pryor cover bill that will probably be introduced tomorrow is a bill that will likely never be voted on, and would require 60 votes to pass. Therefore, the Senators who want to kill coal by opposing SJR 37 will put their names on the Alexander-Pryor bill as cosponsors to make it look like they are saving coal, when in reality this bill kills coal but just puts it off for six years. The time is now to put a stop on Obama's war on coal.
We've seen this before. Remember when the Upton-Inhofe Energy Tax Prevention Act came to the floor last year - a measure that would have prevented the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act - my colleagues offered a number of counter amendments so they could have a cover vote. They wanted to appear to be reining in an out-of-control EPA for their constituents back home, all while letting President Obama go through with his job-killing regulations. Some chose to vote for the only real solution to the problem - the Energy Tax Prevention Act - and some chose the cover vote, but all in all, 64 Senators went on record that day as wanting to rein in EPA. Now the same thing is happening with our Utility MACT vote.
Of course, it's highly unlikely this Utility MACT alternative by Senators Alexander and Pryor will ever get a vote - but that's not the point; the point is just to have something out there that Democrats in a tough spot can claim to support.
As I've said many times now, the vote on my resolution will likely be the one and only opportunity to stop President Obama's war on coal - this is the one chance for my colleagues to show their constituents who they really stand with. Which of my colleagues will vote for the only real solution, which is my resolution, and which colleagues will claim they are for the cover bill?
Growing Momentum to Stop President Obama's War on Coal
So what has changed over the past few weeks to the extent that my colleagues suddenly feel that a cover bill is necessary?
The American people are speaking up and they are not happy about the Obama EPA. I'm pleased to say that we have picked up the support of groups representing business and labor. Even more encouraging, as a growing number of elected officials are working across the aisle to save coal, the Senate has taken notice and the first Senate Democrats are beginning to come on board.
I'd like to commend Senators Joe Manchin and Ben Nelson for being the first of the Senate Democrats to come out publically in support of my resolution. I must say the pressure at home must have been great, and I'm very glad to see that they have made the right choice to stand with their constituents.
Senator Manchin's announcement came just after the Democrat Governor of West Virginia, Governor Tomblin, sent a letter asking him, as well as Senator Rockefeller, to vote for my resolution because, he said, EPA's rules have "coalesced to create an unprecedented attack on West Virginia's coal industry." Governor Tomblin went on to say that "this attack will have disastrous consequences on West Virginia's economy, our citizens and our way of life" and that EPA "continues on this ill-conceived path to end the development of our nation's most reliable cost-effective source of energy - coal."
Governor Tomblin isn't the only Democrat in West Virginia to be concerned. West Virginia Lieutenant Governor Jeffrey Kessler sent a separate letter to the West Virginia Senators asking them to pass SJR 37 in order to save what he called West Virginia's "most valuable state natural recourse and industry." He reminded the Senators that "On May 25, 2012, the State of West Virginia challenged the MATS rule and cited four reasons the defective rule should be rejected."
That's not all: a group of bipartisan state legislators also wrote the Senators urging them to support SJR 37 out of concern for the devastating impacts on West Virginia. As they wrote "several West Virginia power plants have announced their closure and the loss of employment that comes with it. Additional, it is projected that with the implementation of this rule, consumer electric rates will rise substantially."
Small Businesses Make Stopping War on Coal Top Priority
I would also like to note that we have support from nearly 80% of the private sector - those businesses that President Obama claims are "doing just fine."
Well, apparently they're not doing just fine. American businesses are suffering because of aggressive overregulation by the Obama administration. Let me take a minute to read the names of just some of the groups who are supporting our efforts:
- The National Federation of Independent Business
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- American Farm Bureau
- National Association of Manufacturers
- Industrial Energy Consumers of America
- American Chemistry Council
- Association of American Railroads
- American Forest and Paper Association
- American Iron and Steel Institute
- The Fertilizer Institute
- Western Business Roundtable
- National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Labor Unions Support Effort
Labor too, has come out to stop the overregulation that's killing jobs. Cecil Roberts, President of the United Mine Workers - one of the biggest labor unions in the country - recently sent a letter to several Senators saying that union's support for my resolution is "based upon our assessment of the threat that the EPA MATS rule poses to United Mine Workers Association members' jobs, the economies of coal field communities, and the future direction of our national energy policy."
Remember Cecil Roberts is the one who traveled the country in 2008 campaigning for President Obama. But after four years of this administration's regulatory barrage designed to kill the mining jobs his union is trying to protect, Mr. Roberts has said his group may choose not to endorse President Obama or sit this election out. As he explained "We've been placed in a horrendous position here. How do you take coal miners' money and say let's use it politically to support someone whose EPA has pretty much said, ‘You're done'?"
Far Left Environmental Extremists Close Allies in President Obama's War on Coal
With even Democrats and unions supporting my effort to save millions of jobs that depend on coal, EPA must be feeling the pressure.
Gina McCarthy the Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, came out with a statement last week vehemently denying that Utility MACT and EPA's other rules were an effort to end coal. She said "this is not a rule that is in any way designed to move coal out of the energy system."
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson echoed this sentiment saying that it is simply a coincidence that these rules are coming out at the "same time" that natural gas prices are low so utilities are naturally moving towards natural gas. Her message was: don't blame the EPA.
Last week on the Senate floor, I described why their public health and natural gas arguments don't hold up, so I won't go into that today. What I would like to focus on today is that these claims backing up their efforts to kill coal are just a part of the far left environmental playbook.
Now there's a pretty big difference between what EPA is saying publically and what they are saying when they are with their friends - when they feel like they can let their guard down and admit what's really going on at the EPA. That's exactly what happened in a video recently uncovered of Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz. While President Obama was posing in front of an oil pipeline in my state of Oklahoma pretending to support oil and gas, Administrator Armendariz told us the truth that EPA's "general philosophy" is to "crucify" and "make examples" of oil and gas companies.
You may remember last week when I spoke on the Senate floor, I talked about a newly discovered video of EPA Region 1 Administrator Curt Spalding who is caught on tape telling the truth to a group of his environmental friends at a Yale University gathering: he said that EPA's rules are specifically designed to kill coal and that the process isn't going to be pretty.
He openly admitted that "if you want to build a coal plant you got a big problem." He goes on to say that the decision to kill coal was "painful every step of the way" because it will devastate communities in Virginia, Pennsylvania and any area that depends on coal for jobs and livelihoods.
Let me go ahead and quote in full exactly what he said again today. He said,
"But know right now, we are, we are struggling. We are struggling because we are trying to do our jobs. Lisa Jackson has put forth a very powerful message to the country. Just two days ago, the decision on greenhouse gas performance standard and saying basically gas plants are the performance standard which means if you want to build a coal plant you got a big problem. That was a huge decision. You can't imagine how tough that was. Because you got to remember that if you go to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and all those places, you have coal communities who depend on coal. And to say that we just think those communities should just go away, we can't do that. But she had to do what the law and policy suggested. And it's painful. It's painful every step of the way."
I talked a lot about President Obama's war on coal last week, but what I didn't have time to address was the Obama administration's allies in this war. It would come as no surprise that Regional Administrator Spalding, and indeed many at the EPA, are working hand in hand with far-left environmental groups to move these regulations to kill coal.
Last July, Administrator Spalding spoke at a Boston rally for Big Green groups supporting EPA's Utility MACT rule. In a YouTube video of this rally, Administrator Spalding gushes over the environmental community, thanking them profusely for "weighing in on our behalf." So here we have EPA admitting that Big Green is working for them.
His whole speech was directly out of the environmental playbook: it was all about the so called health benefits to killing coal, and as he said "Don't let anybody tell you these rules cost our economy money."
Administrator Spalding isn't alone in his alliance with Big Green. Also appearing with these far left environmental groups was Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman. According to Paul Chesser, an associate fellow for the National Legal and Policy Center, Hedman told supporters at the rally "We really appreciate your enthusiastic support for this rule. It's quite literally a breath of fresh air compared with what's going on in the nation's capital these days."
Of course, former EPA Region 6 Regional Administrator Al Armendariz showed us again last week just how close EPA's relationship is with far left groups. Armendariz had agreed to testify before Congress, but at the last minute he cancelled. As it turns out, Armendariz was in Washington that day - but while he apparently couldn't find time to testify before Congress, he did have time to stop by the Sierra Club for what has been described by the group as a "private meeting." I suspect that Armendariz was there for a job interview - his "crucify them" resume makes him the perfect candidate.
Big Green Environmental Handbook
Of course, EPA and their Big Green allies can't tell the public the truth that they are crucifying oil and gas companies or that their efforts to kill coal will be "painful every step of the way." So they have been deceiving the public with talking points from their playbook.
When I say playbook, I mean a literal document telling activists exactly how to get the emotional effects that they want. We recently got a hold of a copy and I must say, its contents are quite revealing. It comes for USClimateNetwork.com - a coalition of several major environmental groups and it's a guideline for environmental activists when they attend hearings with the EPA to support the agency's greenhouse gas regulations. A quick search revealed that it was apparently written by a key player in the Sierra Club's "Beyond Coal" campaign, which is an aggressive effort to shut down all coal plants across America.
After offering some tips on the word limit and how to deliver the message, the document urges activists to "make it personal." It asks, "Are you an expectant or new mother? Grandparent?" and if so it suggests that you bring your baby to the hearing. As it states, some examples of great visuals are "Holding your baby with you at the podium, or pushing them in strollers, baby car seats, baby-bjorns. Older children are also welcome." It also encourages the visual aids of "Asthma inhalers, medicine bottles, healthcare bills, and medication for air-toxics related illnesses."
The American Lung Association certainly took a page out of this playbook - we've all seen the commercials of the red buggy in front of the capitol.
And of course, the Sierra Club put their principles to practice by inundating the American people with images of small children with inhalers. The posters for their "Beyond Coal" campaign also featured abdomens of pregnant women with an arrow pointing to the unborn baby. The words on the arrow are "This little bundle of joy is now a reservoir for mercury." Another one says "She's going to be so full of joy, love, smiles, and mercury."
Of course, the supreme irony is that the campaign that claims to be protecting this unborn child is the same campaign that is aggressively pro-choice; it's coming from a movement that believes there are too many people in the world and actively advocates for population control.
My good friend, Senator Boxer, must have gotten this memo, as it is not unusual to see her on the Senate floor with a visual of a little child holding an asthma inhaler. And Senator Boxer isn't alone - we've seen these visuals from many of our friends on the other side of the aisle.
Just after a hearing in May of this year, the Sierra Club posted pictures of their efforts and sure enough, there's one of Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club's "Beyond Coal" campaign, holding her two-year-old daughter.
But for all their efforts, it's clear that the campaign is about one thing only, and that's killing coal. At a hearing Mary Anne Hitt with the Sierra Club said, "We are here today to thank the Obama administration, and to show our ironclad support for limiting dangerous carbon pollution being dumped into our air." She apparently sees the Obama administration as the closest ally in the Sierra Club's efforts. As she has said about the "Beyond Coal" campaign "Coal is a fuel of the past. What we're seeing now is the beginning of growing trend to leave it there."
And remember it's not just coal that the Sierra Club is targeting. It was Michael Brune, Executive Director of Sierra Club, that said, and I quote, "As we push to retire coal plants, we're going to work to make sure we're not simultaneously switching to natural-gas infrastructure. And we're going to be preventing new gas plants from being built wherever we can."
So as this vote on my Utility MACT resolution approaches, look for many of my liberal friends to take their arguments directly out of the far-left environmental playbook. Get ready to see lots of pictures of babies and children wearing inhalers. But remember these are the same members who voted against my Clear Skies bill that would have given us a 70% reduction in SOx, NOx and Mercury by 2018.
In fact, then Senator Obama openly admitted that his vote was the deciding vote that killed the bill. He said "I voted against the Clear Skies bill. In fact I was the deciding vote despite the fact that I'm a coal state and that half of my state thought I'd thoroughly betrayed them because I thought clean air was critical and global warming was critical."
At an April 17 hearing this year, Senator Barrasso asked Brenda Archambo of Sturgeon for Tomorrow, who was testifying before the EPW Committee, "Would Michigan lakes, sturgeon, sportsmen, families have been better off had those reductions already gone into effect when they had an opportunity to pass [Clear Skies] in 2005?" Her answer was yes: "absolutely."
Now there is a crucial difference between Clear Skies and Utility MACT. Clear Skies would have reduced emissions without harming jobs and our economy because it was based on a common sense market-based approach - it was designed to retain coal in American electricity generation while reducing emissions each year. On the other hand Utility MACT is specifically designed to kill coal as well as all the good paying jobs that come with it. EPA itself admits that the rule will cost $10 billion to implement but that $10 billion will yield $6 million in benefits. That's a cost / benefit ratio of 1,600 to 1.
If their campaign is so focused on public health, why did Democrats oppose our common sense clean air regulations? Simple: Clear Skies reduced real pollutants, not greenhouse gases, so they held the bill hostage to their far left green agenda of global warming.
President Obama's quote only verifies that. He is on record admitting that he voted against these health benefits because regulating greenhouse gases - which have no effect whatsoever on public health - was more important. In other words, the real agenda is to kill coal.
Just before President Obama made the decision to halt EPA's plan to tighten the ozone standard, then-White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley asked "What are the health impacts of unemployment?" That is one of the most important questions before the United States Senate in preparation for the vote on my resolution to stop Utility MACT. What are the health impacts on the children whose parents will lose their jobs due to President Obama's war on coal? What are the health impacts on children in low income families whose parents will have less money to spend on their wellbeing when they have to put more and more of their paychecks into skyrocketing electricity costs?
Well EPA Regional Administrator Spalding gave us a clue about what the impacts of unemployment will be. He said it will be "painful. Painful every step of the way." Do my colleagues in the U.S. Senate really want to inflict that pain?
Undecided Senators Should Support a Balanced Approach
Mr. President, I deeply regret that I have to be critical of two of my best friends in the United States Senate: Senators Alexander and Pryor - particularly, Senator Pryor. Three of my kids went to the University of Arkansas with him. He's considered family. But if you have been to West Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and the rest of the coal states as I have, and personally visited with proud fourth and fifth generation coal families as I have done, and know they will lose their livelihoods if Alexander-Pryor bill saves the EPA effort to kill coal - I just can't stand by idly an allow that to happen.
Let me conclude by speaking to my friends in this body who have yet to make up their minds as to whether they will support my resolution. I know that everyone here in the US Senate wants to ensure we continue to make the tremendous environmental progress we have made over the past 40 years. Republicans and Democrats have worked together in the past to make great strides while enjoying the benefits of a growing economy.
Unfortunately, this administration's regulations are failing to strike that balance between growing our economy and improving our environment. Rather, this agenda is about killing our ability to run this machine called America by eliminating oil, gas and coal.
Again I welcome the support of Senators Manchin and Nelson who have listened to their constituents about the pain of EPA's Utility MACT rule - now all eyes are on the other Senate Democrats whose constituents will be in just about as much pain.
What about Senators Levin and Stabenow who come from a state that uses coal for 60% of its electricity? What about Senator Conrad from a state with 85% of electricity coming from coal? In Ohio, where Senator Brown is from, 19,000 jobs depend on coal; then there's Virginia, home of Senators Warner and Webb, which has 31,000 jobs in peril due to this war on coal.
Senator McCaskill who comes from a state that relies on coal for 80% of its electricity - so it's not surprising that she has told her constituents back home that she will "hold the line on the EPA." She and all these other coal state Democrats will only have this one chance to hold the line when my CRA comes to the floor.
I wouldn't be surprised if all these Senators from coal states that I just mentioned will support the Alexander and Pryor bill that says "let's kill coal, but just put it off for six years." It's tragic.
I'd like to say to my colleagues that your constituents will see right through those of you who choose the cover bill. The American people are pretty smart and they know that there is only one real solution and that's to stop, not just delay, EPA's war on coal.
I hope they will join Senators Manchin and Nelson and stand with their constituents instead of President Obama and his EPA which will make it "painful every step of the way" for them all. With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.