Roberts: EPA Emissions Rule is War on Coal

RobertsU.S. Senator Pat Roberts today encouraged Kansans to make their opposition known regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule on carbon emissions from coal fired power plants at the EPA’s national listening session in Lenexa, Kansas.

Roberts will submit comments for the record opposing the rule because it will further drive up energy costs for consumers and, along with the President’s repeated refusal to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, continues this Administration’s war on domestic conventional energy. Today’s session is one of 11 the EPA will hold across the country.

“With Kansas relying on coal for about 75 percent of our electricity production, this ruling will result in higher utility rates for all Kansans,” Roberts said. “Particularly hard hit will be low income individuals who spend a greater percentage of their income on necessities like electricity bills. At a time where America is still struggling to recover from an economic recession, the last thing folks need is to worry about whether they can afford to keep their lights on and heat their homes.”

Senator Roberts’ submitted the following statement to the meeting and encouraged Kansans in the area to attend the listening session to oppose the rule.

“While I appreciate the fact the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chose Lenexa, Kansas, as one of its locations for its nationwide “listening sessions” to address citizens and hear concerns regarding efforts to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants, I want to take this opportunity to speak on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of middle and lower income Kansans who will be negatively impacted should the EPA follow through with its misguided plans to end affordable energy as we know it.”

“Few issues today are more critical to the American taxpayer than the price of energy. Whether it’s powering our homes, fueling farm equipment or filling up our cars at the pump, the price of energy directly impacts the costs of goods and operating expenses for all Americans.”

“This is why I found it troubling this past June when President Obama’s EPA unveiled a proposed rule for emissions from new coal fired power plants which can only be described as a war on coal, and which according to one of his climate advisors – “is exactly what we need.” Really, that’s what we need?”

“As our nation continues to face an unemployment rate over 7 percent, with folks struggling to make ends meet, pay their electric bills, and put food on the table, the last thing we need as a country is for our executive branch to unilaterally pursue policy that will make our most abundant and affordable energy resources unavailable.”

“I can assure you, in a state like Kansas, which relies on coal for 74 percent of our power generation; any regulations that essentially prevent any new coal plants from ever being constructed again will not go unchallenged.

“Beyond the negative impact this will have on the ability of lower income families to affordably heat and cool their homes, I have grave concerns over the impact this will have on the more than 90,000 people nationwide whose jobs rely on coal mining. Will they lose their jobs?

“Or will the companies they work for continue developing the coal and simply ship it overseas for use in countries like China, which have almost no environmental regulations in place governing their utility sector? This is a concept commonly referred to as “carbon leakage”, which I believe warrants further discussion. To this end, in 2009, former EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, famously admitted that any unilateral action by the United States to reduce domestic carbon emissions will have little to NO impact on lowering global carbon dioxide levels. Let me repeat that, because it is the lynchpin to this debate – any unilateral action we take as a country to reduce carbon emissions will do nothing to reduce global CO2 emissions.”

“So surely, if we all agree that any unilateral action taken by the U.S. to restrict carbon emissions makes little sense from an environmental perspective then why would we continue pursuing job killing initiatives without corresponding initiatives by China and other major developing countries? Otherwise, this war on coal makes almost no sense from either an economic or scientific perspective. Unfortunately, despite the rhetoric you hear about China’s expansion in the development of renewable sources of energy, their global emissions have increased by over 150 percent since the end of the 20th century.”

“Beyond the ineffectiveness of the president’s proposal, it ignores the fact that our domestic energy producers are making concerted efforts to invest in cleaner forms of energy. In fact, a major energy utility which provides clean, affordable energy to hundreds of thousands of Kansans has invested over a billion dollars over the past decade to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide by more than 65 percent from 2004 levels.”

“Furthermore, over the last two decades, both the United States’ total carbon emissions and our global share of emissions have continued to decrease. So it is simply not true for anyone to claim that efforts are not already underway both at the state and national levels to help promote cleaner forms of energy for future generation.”

“In closing, I would like to highlight a recent statement made by President Obama during his speech this past June in unveiling his Climate Action Plan. In explaining why it’s necessary for us to move forward with his aggressive carbon regulations, President Obama stated, “we have a moral obligation to act on behalf of future generations.” I believe that I also a moral obligation. I have a moral obligation to the single mother in Kansas struggling to make ends meet, to the college student working full time to pay for school, and to the farmer in western Kansas harvesting his crop to feed a hungry world; to do everything in my power to make sure that at the end of the day they can afford to turn on their lights, fuel their vehicles and otherwise pursue what’s best for their family.

“I think it’s time we as a government stopped waging war on coal and the rest of the fossil fuel industry and the millions of folks who rely on these companies in their pursuit of the American dream.”