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Congressman Andy Barr

Representing All the People of Kentucky's Sixth District

Mr. President, You Are Not King!

Jun 27, 2013
Video

Congressman Andy Barr spoke about how the President's Climate Action Plan "substitutes numbers and theories for flesh and blood" on the floor of the United States House of Representatives.

"Mr. President, if you truly care about people, come to eastern Kentucky. See what happens when $70,000-per-year jobs disappear overnight because of unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. At least give us some consideration of that. Better yet, start working with the coal industry to address climate change concerns and stop trying to kill it. It's time this administration put people ahead of its radical ideology."


Full transcript of speech:

I thank the gentleman, and I appreciate the opportunity to address the President's Climate Action Plan that he unveiled yesterday and what this really means to my fellow Kentuckians and my fellow Americans all around this country.

As you see from the exhibit right here, this is the quote from the President's climate adviser: “A war on coal is exactly what's needed.”

While Kentuckians and Americans all around this country are suffering from high unemployment--in large part due to the 5,700 coal jobs lost over the past 2 years--yesterday, the President of the United States re-declared the war on coal.

We know that 1 year ago, the President, through his New Source Performance Standards regulation, imposed an effective moratorium on coal-fired power plants coming online in the future. Yesterday, the President said that he wants to apply that moratorium to the existing coal-fired fleet.

Mr. Speaker, my fellow Americans, the President's Climate Action Plan reveals a leader of our country who is woefully out of touch with the economic realities facing the American working family. Unemployment is still at 7.6 percent across this country; 5 consecutive years of unemployment higher than 7.5 percent. Five years in a row where the workforce participation rate--where the percentage of Americans who are of working age population are actually in the workforce--is only 58 percent. Fifty-eight percent of all working-age people in this country have jobs. That's all. That's 5 percent below the historic average of 63 percent.

Twelve million Americans struggling to find work, wages falling for 5 consecutive years, three-quarters of Americans' paychecks are insufficient to get them by each and every week--they're living paycheck to paycheck. What does this President do? He declares a war, not just on coal, but the working families of America. And worse, he's doing it by making an end run around Congress. His own Democrat-controlled Congress in 2009 refused to pass his radical energy rationing scheme, cap-and-trade, through legislation. So now this President says, Well, Congress doesn't matter, and so I'm going to impose this on the American people through bureaucrats in the executive branch.

Mr. President, you are not king. The Congress of the United States is the law-making body, and the unaccountable, unelected bureaucrats in the executive branch cannot do this without proper statutory authorization. That's why we need the REINS Act. That's why we need to rein in burdensome regulations. That's why we need to make sure that unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in the executive branch don't seek to impose by fiat a regulatory apparatus that commands and controls the American energy future.

This is a question about American energy freedom, a top-down command and control approach versus American energy diversity. The President wants to impose energy rationing, and we say let the American people decide what their energy sources should be.

Half of all energy production in the United States in 2008 came from coal. Ninety percent of all electricity in my home State of Kentucky comes from coal. In 2012, however, only 37 percent of our electricity came from coal. This President wants to take that number down to 0 percent. So when the President's climate adviser says that he wants a war on coal, he means it.

This is what I want to conclude with. This is not just about statistics about coal jobs lost or energy freedom or the fact that we've lost nine power units, coal-fired power units, in Kentucky in the last several years. This is about human beings. This is about people who have lost their jobs. This is about the President of the United States attacking a way of life.

President Obama and his administration display a stunning lack of compassion. Not once in his remarks yesterday did we hear any recognition, any understanding of the suffering the administration's new proposals will inflict in the communities of central Appalachia, in the suffering of the communities that have already endured a disproportionate share of pain during the last few years. The President's climate action plan substitutes numbers and theories for flesh and blood. It presents climate change as a perpetual crisis justifying one regulation on top of another without any consideration of the cost to real people.

How much is enough, Mr. President? Where does it all end? By the Obama Administration's own admission, U.S. carbon emissions fell to the lowest level in two decades. The President, of all people, should read this statistic and conclude it's time for some breathing room, time to let the coal industry adjust, time to let people recover. But you don't offer breathing room in a war.

In yesterday's New York Times, the White House climate adviser said a war on coal is exactly what we need. But this isn't just a war on an entire American industry; it's a war on coal miners and their families. And these coal miners, the 5,700 coal miners who have lost their jobs in eastern Kentucky over the last 4 years under this administration, they depend on those paychecks; their families depend on those paychecks. They don't have the political clout to attract this President's attention or concern, but they are Americans.

What a dramatic shift from a half century ago when Presidents Kennedy and Johnson focused so much energy on alleviating poverty in the very same mountain counties the Obama administration is now ravaging with these heartless policies.

Mr. President, if you truly care about people, come to eastern Kentucky. See what happens when $70,000-per-year jobs disappear overnight because of unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. At least give us some consideration of that. Better yet, start working with the coal industry to address climate change concerns and stop trying to kill it. It's time this administration put people ahead of its radical ideology.