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Congressman Andy Barr

Representing All the People of Kentucky's Sixth District

Barr Rallies for American Energy Jobs

Nov 1, 2013

On Tuesday, October 29, Congressman Barr was honored to add his voice to those of the thousands of hardworking coal miners and their families who visited Washington as part of the “Rally for American Energy Jobs.” This event was a powerful denunciation of the EPA’s efforts to ban coal mining in Eastern Kentucky and throughout Appalachia, as well as the use of coal-fired electricity throughout this country, which are killing jobs and driving up electric rates. Congressman Barr stands with the miners who traveled from Kentucky and other coal producing states to join their Members of Congress at the U.S. Capitol to make clear to President Obama that the EPA’s ruinous policies are bad for the coalfields, bad for hardworking families, and bad for our economy.

Click here for more pictures from the event.

Transcript (as prepared for delivery):

In Washington, people have a way of talking in numbers that boggle the mind.

I could speak of the tens of billions of dollars that the EPA’s recently announced New Source Performance Standards will cost our economy and American consumers, and the billions more upcoming regulations on existing plants will add.

Or I could speak of the impact the loss of gigawatts of coal-fired power will have on our manufacturing sector, the unemployment rate, or any other number of economic factors.

Or the more than 40% decline in eastern Kentucky coal production in the past two years.

But all of those numbers are so large and so separated from people’s actual lives that they can actually be an abstraction.

The figure that really matters is the number of innocent people caught up in the Obama Administration’s war on jobs.  More than 6,200 Kentuckians have lost their jobs at the mines in the last two years due to an unprecedented regulatory assault on the coal industry.  That’s 6,200 proud people who have been forced into the unemployment lines, including 525 more just last week.  Some of these Kentuckians come from families where generations have made a living in the mines.  That way of life is now in danger of being lost forever.

The impact on these miners’ families and communities – dependent on salaries only coal can provide in the hollers of Appalachia – has been devastating.  Small businesses have no customers.  County governments have no tax revenues to invest in schools or infrastructure.  The unemployment rate in some counties is in double digits.

Families have struggled to provide their children with school supplies for the fall.  Christmas will be lean again this year.  Hardworking people will be forced, for the first time, to go on the public dole.

These outcomes are the result of an artificial crisis – an economic downturn engineered in the West Wing and enforced by the EPA.  Unelected Washington bureaucrats have decreed that this way of life, the symbol of Appalachia, must now come to an end – regardless of the consequences to the lives of their fellow Americans.

The worst part?  Kentucky and her neighbors in Appalachia will not be alone.  When there regulations are implemented, the rest of the country will share our pain.  Jobs far from the coal fields, in the hundreds of thousands, will be lost as the cost of electricity goes through the roof.  The loss of coal power increases the likelihood of rolling brownouts, posing a real threat to human health.  The middle class will be squeezed by these forces as our diminished economic competitiveness puts the American Dream out of reach.

The beneficiaries of these ruinous policies will not be future generations of Americans, who will inherit a broken economy while global carbon emissions continue to rise.  No, the winners will be China, India, and the rest of the developing world that will pursue growth rather than economic disarmament.

The House will continue to seek to roll back the EPA’s ruinous policies.  However, we will need the support of the Senate and the White House, seemingly unaware or unconcerned with the plight of our mining communities, to come to the table.

I would urge the President to visit Appalachia’s coal fields, for the first time in his Administration.  To speak with the miners who have been issued pink slips because of his environmentalist agenda.  And once he has looked in their eyes, seen their heartache, to ask himself: “is this the kind of hardship I want to inflict on the American people.”

Only if he leaves 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and actually sees these impacts firsthand will he understand the human cost of his environmentalist agenda.  And then, I hope, he will finally come to Congress so that the people’s elected officials can create real solutions to preserve both economic opportunity and the environment.

American energy means American jobs and American competitiveness.  It’s high time Washington stepped out of the way and let the American people get back to work!