Fighting to Keep the Lights On

July 30, 2014

E&C Members Rally for Jobs, Say #Yes2Energy 

Advocates for affordable energy and American jobs put on a full-court press this week to fight against EPA’s destructive proposed plan to take over states’ electricity systems and shut down the nation’s coal industry. As the administration continues to tout its Clean Power Plan as an opportunity for “investment,” members of the Energy and Commerce Committee are standing up to expose the cold hard truth about how EPA’s new power plant rule will drive up electricity rates and send U.S. jobs overseas while doing nothing to change the weather or the global climate.

Members of the committee joined Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other members of Congress today at a rally in support of coal’s jobs and energy. The members were joined by singer Jimmy Rose who sang his hit “Coal Keeps The Lights On,” which speaks to the importance of coal to communities across the country and the harmful effects of the Obama administration’s regulatory policies on American workers and their families.

Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL), who highlighted Jimmy Rose’s song last year on the House floor, spoke at today’s rally and stood up for coal communities left abandoned by this administration. He exclaimed, “This is an attack on not just a current way of life, but a heritage that has made this country great. ... It’s intentional. It’s planned. And it’s a direct assault on coal mining areas and, really, low-cost power in this country.”

Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) added,Coal has kept the lights on in America, and coal has provided the energy for America’s innovation for generations. It’s affordable. It’s reliable. … This is not about politics. It’s not even about failed policies … This is about hard-working Americans who get up every day wondering how they are going to make it another day because of what is going on in Washington, D.C.” 

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) also attended today’s rally and questioned EPA’s legal authority to overhaul our energy industry and shut down the nation’s coal plants. Griffith declared, “Let me tell you something else when they say there is not a war on coal. Ask the EPA: Where is their authority for these new regulations under the Clean Air Act? … This is not about policy, but it is about the administration’s war on coal. We must win this war for the people of America.” 

Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) traveled today to EPA’s headquarters to testify at a public hearing and described the negative consequences of the agency’s proposed rule for American families and our economy. “Obama and his EPA have shown a callous disregard for hardworking Americans they are hurting with excessive regulations. These families are not just statistics, they are people. They are husbands and wives, moms and dads, neighbors and friends. … Of course, we all want clean air. But we need to achieve it in a way that doesn’t impose a crushing cost on hardworking American families. The impact will be felt far beyond West Virginia and other coal producing areas. We’re just the front lines,” said McKinley. “The increased cost of electricity will be borne by those who can least afford it – seniors on a fixed income and low income families. It will make American manufacturers even less competitive. This will lead to more good paying jobs going off shore to other countries where they’re burning coal.”

The Energy and Power Subcommittee held a hearing on Tuesday with the Commissioners of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to examine some of the implementation challenges associated with EPA’s Clean Power Plan. FERC Commissioners expressed great concerns over the potential of EPA’s plan to raise energy costs and reduce electric reliability. 

Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) echoed these concerns and stated, “I find EPA’s proposed efforts dictating electricity usage to be troubling. This is an area where the reach of the federal government has been limited, and for good reason since these local resource decisions are best left to states… Most of all, I am very concerned what this proposed rule would do to electricity costs for consumers and for job-creating businesses.”

And full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) expressed anxiety over EPA’s potential to diminish energy diversity, stating, “Maintaining a diverse energy portfolio is a core component of this committee’s vision for America’s energy future – a vision we call the Architecture of Abundance. … Maintaining diversity – both diversity in our electricity generation portfolio as well as a diversity of strategies for meeting a state’s electricity needs – is critical to affordable and reliable energy. But EPA’s top-down Clean Power Plan will give us less of both kinds of diversity.”

The Energy and Commerce Committee will continue to fight for a true “all-of-the-above” energy portfolio that allows coal to remain a viable part of America’s energy future. We are saying yes to coal, yes to jobs, and #Yes2Energy.

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