Energy costs represent a significant portion of every household budget. I have therefore long supported an “all of the above,” market-based approach to energy policy to ensure that electricity costs remain as low as possible for hard-working families and seniors.
Achieving energy independence will require increasing the supply of domestic energy resources as well as investing in technologies that provide sustainable sources of affordable energy. Fortunately, southern and eastern Kentucky boasts plentiful reserves of one of the most affordable energy resources in the world - coal. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Kentucky’s estimated recoverable coal reserves are the fifth largest in the nation. I have always supported the safe and responsible mining and use of coal, as Kentucky currently serves as the fourth-largest producer of this cheap and reliable resource. Today, Kentucky’s Fifth Congressional District is home to nearly 4,000 coal miners. Additionally, the Commonwealth receives 87% of its electricity from coal and, as a result, has some of the lowest electric rates in the nation.
Although coal mining is cleaner and safer than ever before in history, this industry unfortunately came under direct attack during eight years of the Obama Administration. The regulatory assaults of the former President’s unelected bureaucrats have threatened this vital economic engine while simultaneously increasing electricity and gas prices. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) became the poster child for widespread regulatory overreach and, as a result, put mining, manufacturing, and farming families out of work at a time when some Kentucky counties have 14% unemployment. Unquestionably, the downturn in the coal industry has been devastating for families in our region – and it has placed the energy security of our entire country at risk. Government rules on everything from boilers to farm dust to light bulbs only exacerbate the challenges experienced by businesses and consumers.
For these reasons, I am proud to be a strong voice in Congress in opposition to anti-coal policies and job-killing regulations. Most notably, the work of the House Appropriations Committee, where I served as Chairman from 2011 - 2016, sends a strong message that “legislation by regulation” faces bi-partisan opposition. For example, in the six years that I was chairman, our committee worked to scale back the Obama Administration’s regulatory overreach by reducing EPA funding by $2.2 billion, or 21%, and reducing EPA staff to its lowest levels since 1989. We prevented the Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA from changing the definition of “fill material,” which would harm many U.S. industries. We strengthened technological innovation by investing in energy research, including significant investments in clean coal technology. In addition, the House of Representatives has considered a host of bills intended to rein in the bureaucracy and create a climate where businesses can put the American people back to work. I will continue to fight alongside Kentucky coal miners, farmers, and manufacturers for their jobs and livelihoods, and for our nation’s energy security. It is a fight we cannot afford to lose.