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Senate Votes on Job-Killing EPA Regulation

Would rein in out-of-control EPA rule that hurts Kentucky coal families

Jun 20, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Senate today voted through the Congressional Review Act on a resolution of disapproval to halt the Environmental Protection Agency's Utility MACT rule, which would shut down coal-fired power plants across the country.

The resolution failed passage, 46-53.

Prior to the vote, Sen. Rand Paul took to the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to vote in disapproval of this job-killing rule. Below is video and transcript of his speech, as well as background points on the Utility MACT rule.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH SEN. PAUL DISCUSS THE RESOLUTION

TRANSCRIPT:

You know, the question is pollution getting better or worse? From all this hysteria, you would think pollution is getting so much worse.

All measurements of pollution show we're doing a good job and much better than we have ever done. Most of the emission, the big emissions, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, they've been going down for decades. We're doing a good job with pollution.

This rule is about mercury. Power plants emit this much of the mercury. Do you know over half of mercury comes from natural sources? Forest fires emit more mercury than power plants do. We already have eight regulations at the federal level on mercury, we have a plethora of regulations at the state level and the question is, is mercury getting worse or is mercury getting less? Well, for the last five years, the amount of mercury that's being emitted has been cut in half.

If you measure mercury in the blood of women and children, it's getting less. If you say what is a safe level of mercury in the blood, we're below that. If you look at populations that eat nothing but fish, the Seychelles Islands, they've found zero evidence that mercury is hurting any of them. So when you look at mercury emissions, they're going down.

The question is, are we going to have a balance in our country? Does the other side care whether you work or not? You can do everything possible to try to eliminate this last 1 percent, but the question is, at what cost? Many are estimating 50,000 people are going to lose their jobs. Do you care if I have a job? Yes, we want to be safe, but there has to be a balancing act.

The question you have to ask, is the environment cleaner or worse off? The environment is so much cleaner than it used to be.

The rules in place are somewhat balanced, and are keeping pollution under control what we don't want to do is go so far over the top that we lose jobs. This new rule is estimated to lose 50,000 jobs. I think what we need is that the American people need to have a say in this. We don't -- we don't need to give up that power to unelected bureaucrats who you can't remove from office.

Let's let your representatives get involved to have more of a balance in the regulations, and I suggest that we vote in favor of this amendment. Thank you Madam President.

 

BACKGROUND:

  • This Utility MACT regulation is yet another front in this Administration's war on the coal industry - on the employees, business owners, families and communities of coal. An entire industry and way of life is at risk. The EPA admits that nearly all of the atmospheric mercury in the U.S. comes from overseas. They admit that mercury emissions have declined by over half in the last 10 years. The CDC data tells us that levels of exposure in the riskiest populations - women and children - are well within safe levels.
  • Utility MACT is one of at least 8 other federal rules that already address mercury emissions in the land, air and water. Utility MACT will cap emissions from power plants - which account for barely 1 percent of total global emissions of mercury.
    • The mercury we are attempting to regulate isn't even ours. The EPA has estimated that 83 percent of the mercury deposited in the U.S. comes from international sources. Of the approximately 100 tons arriving from other countries, most of it comes from China. Even the EPA has admitted that U.S. emissions only account for 3 percent of the total global emissions of mercury. So, burdening 45 percent of our electricity generating power plants with $10 billion in compliance costs, per year, won't even result in any real reductions in mercury.
  • The benefits of this rule are minimal and the costs are tremendous. This rule will essentially prevent the construction of coal-fired power plants. In doing so, we will threaten a critical source of reliable, affordable energy, as well as key component of our energy industry.
  • The coal industry is an engine of economic growth. In Kentucky alone, the mining industry directly employs 23,340 people. Those are parents, children, community leaders who rely on the solid jobs that the mining industry provides. In fact, those jobs, on average, pay approximately $15,000 more than the average salaries available in the rest of the state. The same is true for the mining industry everywhere. Nationally, the average coal miner earns about $77,500, well above the national average of $46,500.
  • But with this rule, this Administration is eliminating these jobs, sidelining families, and putting states out of business. Utility MACT could close down as many as 62 percent of coal fired power plants, and cause 53,000 job losses in the utility and mining sectors. Altogether, it has been estimated that EPA's upcoming rules could net employment losses that average 183,000 jobs per year. Job losses outweigh gains by a ratio of 3-to-1.
  • States who mine coal will lose a valuable source of severance taxes. In Kentucky, the coal industry paid $270.3 million in coal severance taxes in FY 2009-10. That is money that goes to pay for education, health care and public projects.
  • This Administration is waging a war on coal. There is no other way to say it. Through onerous regulations, excessive compliance costs, permitting delays, and unreasonable environmental requirements, this Administration has taken aim at an industry that employs and powers this country.
  • A vote for this CRA is a vote for the thousands of families in Kentucky, Appalachia and across the country whose livelihood is in the hands of EPA bureaucrats.

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Contact Senator Rand Paul at One of his Offices

Bowling Green - Main State Office
1029 State Street
Bowling Green, KY 42101
Phone: 270-782-8303

Owensboro
423 Federica St, Ste 305
Owensboro, KY 42301
Phone: 270-689-9085

Crescent Springs
541 Buttermilk Pk Ste 102
Crescent Springs, KY 41017
Phone: 859-426-0165

Lexington
771 Corporate Dr, Ste 105
Lexington, KY 40503
Phone: 859-219-2239

Louisville
600 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Pl,
Rm 1072B
Louisville, KY 40202
Phone: 502-582-5341

Hopkinsville
1100 S. Main St, Ste 12
Hopkinsville, KY 42240
Phone: 270-885-1212

Washington, DC
124 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510
Phone: 202-224-4343