Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 21, 2012
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Energy


Mr. LUJÁN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

This amendment is being offered under the guise of protecting tribal sovereignty when we have seen the complete opposite from the majority during this Congress. We have seen time and time again the majority's willingness to ignore tribal issues that are important to Indian country. A case in point is a bill the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Gosar) sponsored, H.R. 1904, entitled the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange. This was a giveaway of a sacred site of the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona to a copper mining company.

When the bill was considered, we heard desperate pleas from tribes across the country asking us to stop a foreign-owned mining company from bulldozing their sacred sites in the name of profit. I offered an amendment to protect the sacred sites. It was straightforward and still would have allowed the mining to take place, but it would have protected those sacred sites. The Republican majority defeated the amendment.

Another example is a refusal by some Members who are on the floor today to cosponsor the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. My bill would address years of suffering by those negatively impacted by uranium mining on the Navajo Nation. To this day, members of the Navajo Nation are sick and suffering from the legacy of uranium mining: cancer, kidney disease, and, in severe cases, even death. When I visited with Navajo elders and talking with people impacted by exposure, they asked me, Are people in Congress waiting for us to die for the problem to go away? Maybe someone should answer that question.

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Chairman, I yield an additional 30 seconds to the gentleman from New Mexico.

Mr. LUJÁN. Mr. Chairman, my Republican colleagues come down here to say they are supporting and protecting tribal sovereignty with this amendment. Let's take a hard look at their track record on these issues. They seem to only want to support tribal sovereignty when it's convenient, as Mr. Gosar's amendment clearly demonstrates. Before offering this amendment, did the gentleman from Arizona even consult with the Navajo Nation on this amendment?

What we should be doing is encouraging government-to-government consultation between the tribe and EPA to solve this issue, not by forcing an amendment.