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WASHINGTON, DC –Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), delivered the following opening statement at today’s Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on the nomination of Gina McCarthy to be Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
Excerpts of Senator Barrasso’s Opening Statement:
“Thank you Madame Chairman, I’m not sure whether the nominee before us today is personally aware of so many folks who have actually lost their jobs because of the EPA and the role that I believe it is taking now, which is failing our country. People in places like Wyoming, Montana, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.
“And let me just read you a story that ran in the front page of the Casper Star Tribune Wyoming statewide newspaper, dated January 28th of this year, 2013. It’s entitled ‘Coal’s Decline Hits – Depressed domestic market means laid-off Wyomingites.’
“The article references Mike Cooley and his family. Here he is with his 2 year old son and his wife.
“The article says that Mike has ‘become one of several hundred mine workers to lose their jobs in the past year in the region, as a dispute over West Coast ports hobbles the industry’s ability to reach booming markets in Asia.’
“People who want to buy American products, but yet, your extreme emission rules that you have imposed on U.S. power stations are forcing coal companies to make up for lost domestic customers by exporting more to countries in Asia.
“Your EPA has written a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers encouraging them to look at the greenhouse gas impacts of allowing coal to be shipped overseas through these West Coast ports.
“So, not only have you have blocked the use of coal in power plants domestically, you now are recommending that coal not be shipped, an American product not be able to be shipped and sold overseas.
“This gentleman goes on, he says ‘I’ve never been laid off, I’ve always worked since I was a teenager,’ he said, who’s now his family is relying on his wife’s income as a grocery store cashier until he finds a job.
“Now, that’s not just Wyoming, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, a West Virginia paper, ran a story about a veteran coal miner, their concerns about the Administration’s ‘War on Coal.’
“This miner named Al Palmer, he says ‘Coal miners used to be heroes, but now many of my brothers and sisters in the coal industry fear for their family’s livelihood.’
“The article mentions Al’s father who worked as a coal miner, as did both of his grandfathers. Now his son works in the same mine with him.
“He stated in the article, ‘Coal has powered this nation for years. Please don’t throw us away.’
“My questions are coal miners like Al, and his son, no longer heroes to the nominee, and to the EPA.
“The EPA is making it impossible to for our coal miners, like Mike Cooley in Wyoming, Al Palmer in West Virginia, to feed their families.
“How many more times, if confirmed, will this EPA Director pull the regulatory lever and allow another mining family to fall through the EPA’s trap door to joblessness, to poverty and to poor health?
“These people are heroes, and they deserve better than what they’re getting from the EPA.
“The nominee before this Committee is a senior EPA official, reporting to the Administrator.
“And to some extent, she owes the American people an explanation, and a vision today, for what the EPA under her would look like.
“Will anything change, anything from the course that we’ve been on for the last four years?
“The nominee today has testified at her confirmation hearing four years ago that she would, ‘speak plainly and truthfully about the lives being lost, the responsibilities we face, the challenges ahead, the options we have and the opportunities we can realize as we face the future together.’
“I haven’t heard yet any plain statements from EPA, and hopefully it will today from this nominee about the negative health impacts and lives lost from chronic unemployment caused by the EPA policies.
“Regulations and proposed rules on greenhouse gases, coal ash, mercury emissions and industrial boilers have led to the closing of dozens of power plants in the U.S., costing our country thousands of jobs.
“Folks who now have no money, no job, no prospect for a job in their communities, and they are experiencing serious health risks as a result of that.
“Studies show that children from unemployed parents suffer significant negative health effects.
“The National Center for Health Statistics said that, ‘Children in poor families,’ people out of work ‘were four times as likely to be in fair or poor health as children in families who are not poor.’
“This is a serious health epidemic, and it seems to go unnoticed by the EPA.
“So we need a nominee who has the power to not just listen to stakeholders, but to keep his or her promises.
“Someone who is truly committed to the reform that we need to keep America working.
“Thank you, Madame Chairman.”