I rise today to lend my support to Senator Murkowski’s Resolution of Disapproval for one simple but enormously important reason: because I believe we must send a strong and urgent message that the fate of our economy, our manufacturing industries, and our workers should never be placed solely in the hands of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
I have long maintained that the Congress, the elected voice of the people – and not the unelected EPA – must decide major economic and energy policy. It is our job – because we represent the people of this country. We are accountable to them.
And there are no greater or more closely intertwined economic and energy issues that we face today than climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and the challenge and need for clean, safe, reliable, domestic energy.
I have and will continue to spend a great deal of time and focus thinking about – and, more importantly, listening about – these issues. Listening first and always to West Virginians, and to my colleagues, to outside experts, to environmental advocates and industry representatives.
I am not here to deny or bicker fruitlessly about the science, as some would suggest. I care deeply about this earth and about the fundamental human commitment – the higher calling we all have -- to be its steward. Greenhouse gas emissions are not healthy for the earth or her people and we must take significant action to reduce them. We must develop and deploy clean energy. Period.
But EPA regulation is not the answer. EPA has little or no authority to address economic needs, no ability to incentivize and deploy new technologies, no obligation to protect the hardworking people of West Virginia and the nation.
Their jobs matter. Their lives matter. And any regulatory solution that creates more problems than it fixes, and causes more harm than good, in the real lives of real people, is no solution at all – or at least not one I’ll be any part of.
My EPA delay bill is another strong action – one that I believe can win the support of most stakeholders -- to ensure major energy and economic policy are set by Congress, and I will continue to press for action on it.
I also support legislative action this year to prevent any future catastrophe like the Gulf oil spill (which is to my mind a very separate issue), and I support legislation to advance new clean energy technologies.
West Virginia is poised to lead a major part of the effort on clean technology because we know energy – we know coal and natural gas and CCS, like few others know it.
The fact is that we in West Virginia know and embrace what too many others either don’t understand or don’t want to see -- which is that our nation is dependent on coal for more than 50 percent of its electricity today.
And even if the country achieves maximum success for all the new ideas on the table for new green energy, our American quality of life – and the rapid rise of energy needs around the globe -- will drive the same or greater need for coal for many generations to come. Coal mining is hard, dangerous, and very proud work. It turns the lights on all across America.
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