American Clean Energy And Security Act Of 2009

Floor Speech

Date: June 25, 2009
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. RAHALL. Madam Speaker, the Congress would be unwise to sit by and simply allow the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, as the agency has been mandated to do by the Supreme Court. Similarly, it would be a mistake to sit back and allow other countries to devise international rules that will affect America's economic and energy interests.

I do not agree with those who advocate for sitting on our hands and just saying NO to everything, sight unseen. The international community has no interest in protecting American businesses, and the Environmental Protection Agency is not required by the Supreme Court to consider the views of our constituents or the economic consequences to our communities.

I believe America is the one nation best equipped to lead such a multinational effort and, in doing so, to strike a balance between environmental preservation and the preservation of jobs. The hands-off approach of recent years did nothing to help promote new energy technologies, or to advance carbon capture and sequestration, or to protect American jobs.

It is evident that wishing that this complex issue would simply go away will not lead to better results for our Nation or the people we represent. And ``just saying no'' to any and all proposals, sight unseen, is unrealistic and irresponsible.

For those reasons, I chose to work with my colleagues and with numerous stakeholders--including the coal industry, manufacturers, and labor--to positively influence this bill and America's climate change strategies. And for those reasons our coal miners and responsible industry members have been at the table, too, rather than on the sidelines.

I thank Chairman Waxman, who has made many concessions in this bill, and I thank leadership for listening to my concerns about this legislation and moving to help address them.

As well, I commend my colleague Rick Boucher, from southwestern Virginia, who serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee and worked in determined fashion to make improvements to the bill that we both sought. I am grateful that he has been so welcoming of my views and supportive of our interests--such as ensuring the availability of $10 billion to advance carbon capture and sequestration technologies and other changes that are beneficial to the people of our neighboring districts.

While this bill is greatly improved from the discussion draft that was first circulated in March of this year--and opponents were saying NO even before that draft was written--more improvements are needed to gain my support.

Coal does much more than keep the lights on in big cities across America. In my district, it covers the mortgage, puts food on the family dinner table, and keeps open the doors of small businesses. While the emissions target in the early years of this program has been lowered from the 20% cap initially contained in this bill, there remains widespread concern that even the reduced cap--17% in 2020--is still too high and too soon to incentivize rapid development and deployment of carbon capture and sequestration technologies, so as to ensure coal mining jobs for the future. We must allow time for expensive clean coal technologies to come on line.

These technologies are critical to lowering emissions across multiple sectors of our economy. And they are necessary for keeping hardworking coal miners in the jobs they want, providing power for the country they love.

Madam Speaker, today, I cannot cast my vote for this bill.