Coal Tattoo

Here is Sen. Robert C. Byrd’s statement explaining his vote against the Murkowski greenhouse gas resolution:

“I believe that the measure that we are being asked to vote upon today is extreme. The Murkowski Resolution before us today is being presented to the Senate in a most unusual fashion. A “Disapproval Resolution” limits this great institution’s ability to conduct an open and thorough debate. This measure prohibits Senators from offering amendments. For those keeping score at home, in this political climate, it is usually the members of the minority party who are blasting the majority party for not allowing amendments on any and every measure that is brought to the Senate floor for debate. Yet, the Resolution offered by Senator Murkowski, a member of the minority party, with co-sponsors who are mostly members of the minority party, suppresses debate on this very important topic.”

“Now, I would be the first one to argue in this chamber that it is the members of the legislative branch who should be setting policy concerning the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. We should be doing that. If we are serious about addressing this issue, all of us in this body should, in a bipartisan manner, debate and move forward as soon as possible on a comprehensive energy policy, including a discussion of climate change issues.”

“The Senate owes it to the American people to do something other than hold a political vote on the Murkowski “Disapproval Resolution,” which has zero prospects for enactment. Even if it did pass the Senate, the House Leadership has indicated that it would not bring it to the floor for a vote, and the President has issued a veto threat. Even if it did pass, it would not alleviate our well-founded uncertainty about the future.”

“Many leaders in Congress and around the Nation have been hard at work for the past several years in designing federal energy legislation that will ensure a better future for America’s coal miners and other workers, while also making long-overdue investments in new, high-growth American industries.”

“The Congress should be debating a new energy policy that makes the best possible use of our abundant coal reserves while transitioning America into a position less dependent on foreign oil, less beholden to the special interests of giant multi-national corporations, and more responsive and proactive in meeting Americans’ desire for cleaner and more abundant sources of energy. I understand that the Senate Democratic Leadership is willing to move forward on an energy bill that includes a clear-cut pre-emption for action by the Environmental Protection Agency.”

“I have been working with many of my colleagues to help shape a bill that will be good for the future of coal and the coal industry in my home State of West Virginia. Having a seat at the table and being open to discussions on these matters has enabled me to add provisions relating to clean coal technologies, job creation, and transitions to new jobs to proposed legislation. And I have secured commitments to provide billions of dollars for constructing the next generation of cleaner coal-fired power plants, and am currently negotiating for billions more to support businesses and job creation in the West Virginia region, as well as to improve highways, broadband access, and other critical infrastructure and economic development services for the people, entrepreneurs, and businesses that will make West Virginia stronger in the future. These provisions are beneficial for my home state of West Virginia and for the people of the entire Appalachia region.”

“The Murkowski “Disapproval Resolution” overturns the “endangerment finding.” This in essence is like voting to assert that there is no climate change or global warming going on, and to dismiss scientific facts that already exist. As I have pointed out before, to deny the mounting science of climate change is to stick our heads in the sand and say “deal me out.” West Virginia needs to stay at the table, as should all Senators who have concerns about our energy policy.”

“Finally, mark my words, the regulation of greenhouse gasses is approaching, whether done by Congress or by regulation, despite naysayers who rail about the non-existence of climate change.”

“This Resolution, I fear, would have a sweeping impact. It could preclude action to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil. It could delay critical investments in clean coal technologies. That’s not a national energy strategy I can or want to support. My vote today against the Murkowski Resolution is a vote for coal’s future and my intention to continue to have a seat at the table and a voice for West Virginia in how we legislate our energy future.”