Rep. Whitfield speaks at a rally in support of Kentucky's coal industry.
I believe that America must develop an ‘All of the Above’ energy strategy that responsibly develops and uses the sources of energy available in America. This strategy should include Kentucky coal, domestic oil reserves, natural gas, nuclear power and hydroelectricity as well as wind, solar and other renewable forms of electricity. However, with electricity demand expected to increase 30 percent growth by 2035, the United States simply cannot rely on renewables such as wind and solar alone as some in Congress would like to do.
As the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, I will continue to advance an ‘All of the Above’ energy strategy that will employ Kentuckians and address domestic energy demands without unnecessary government regulation that results in higher energy prices, delayed resource exploration or stunted job growth. I am especially concerned that overreaching government regulations will have a negative effect on America’s coal industry, which creates more than 134,000 jobs directly and supports 3.4 million jobs indirectly across the nation. In Kentucky, 17,900 jobs are created directly by coal.
Also, I am committed to ensuring that the cleanup being conducted at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant is completed and to working with local community and industry officials to redevelop the area. As part of this redevelopment, I have worked to assure that the resources on the site, such as the stockpile uranium, nickel, and other metals can be productively used to generate funds for environmental cleanup and for the community to reindustrialize this area and retain and create jobs.
As Subcommittee Chairman, I also plan to examine all proposed regulations from the EPA that will drive up energy costs and issues related to electricity transmission, nuclear power and responsible domestic resource development.
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On July 31, 2012, I hosted the first in a series of bipartisan forums on the Clean Air Act. These forums are intended to provide an opportunity for members of Congress to hear a broad range of perspectives from experts about their experiences in implementing the Clean Air Act. The second forum was held on August 2, 2012.
During my time as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, we have had numerous hearings on specific rules under the Clean Air Act and we have passed a number of bills relating to those rules. The goal of these forums is not to talk about legislation or focus on any specific rule or provision of the Act, but rather to foster a broad, bipartisan discussion about the law. We will hear from experts who live with this Act every day, about their experience implementing the law and coordinating with the various levels of government that share responsibility for our nation’s air quality.
For information on the July 31, 2012 Clean Air Act Forum, click here.
For information on the August 2, 2012 Clean Air Act Forum, click here.
The United States has abundant coal reserves for the next 250 years and much of that supply is found in Kentucky. Kentucky’s coal industry contributes more than $3.5 billion to the State’s economy and employs more than 17,900 miners. For every one job created by Kentucky’s coal industry, that job supports three others in the community.
Due to the importance of coal to Kentucky’s economy, I have worked with Members of Congress of both parties to ensure Kentucky coal continues to play a vital part of any ‘All of the Above’ energy strategy to meet America’s growing energy demands.
I have supported clean coal technologies that enable coal to be used in a manner that is both more efficient while protecting the environment. Beyond its traditional use for the generation of electricity, coal is now being used in the industrial, transportation, residential, commercial and military sectors.
Kentucky, and the First Congressional District in particular, has a long and proud history associated with the production of coal, and I will continue to be a leader in the development and responsible use of new coal technologies and innovations.
I have been leading the movement to re-enrich depleted uranium tails from the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant as well as a diffusion plant in Portsmouth, Ohio. The bill, known as the Energy and Revenue Enrichment Act of 2011, (H.R. 2054) has the potential to generate revenue for environmental cleanup while also maintaining jobs at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
My legislation would initiate a pilot program to re-enrich depleted uranium tails, which contain still useable quantities of uranium that can be obtained by re-enrichment. The tails currently are located onsite at Paducah’s enrichment plant as well as in Portsmouth. This pilot program would reduce the amount of waste at the sites by as much as 30,000 tons, save the taxpayers $135 million in avoided conversion and waste disposal, and help to avoid the environmental impact of disposal.
In a hearing before a House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee in April 2008, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) testified that the uranium tails could be worth as much as $20 billion and assumed the net value could be $7.6 billion based on 2008 market conditions.
Sens. McConnell and Paul have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
Kentucky's First Congressional District is home to the only remaining government owned uranium enrichment plant in the United States - the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Nuclear power currently accounts for 20 percent of our nation’s electricity and is a clean, emission-free energy source. The enriched uranium fuel from the Paducah Plant is used by our nation’s commercial nuclear power plants and is part of a “All of the Above” energy policy. I am a proud representative of the workforce at the Paducah plant that has helped provide for the nation’s energy and defense needs for more than fifty years.
I have worked to ensure that clean up work taking place at the plant continues as scheduled despite federal funding constraints. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (“stimulus”) provided funds for additional workers to move the clean up forward. Unfortunately, as stimulus funds have been exhausted, those jobs that were created will end, returning the workforce to pre-stimulus levels. I will continue to fight to ensure that the clean up continues and will work to assure adequate funding.
To that end, I have proposed legislation that would keep employees working at the plant while also bringing millions of dollars to the region for environmental clean-up. The proposed legislation would direct DOE to re-enrich the uranium tails remaining at the plant. This re-enrichment would reduce disposal requirements for the 700,000 tons of uranium tails located at the Paducah and Portsmouth, Ohio, enrichment sites. Further, this legislation could help keep the Paducah plant open beyond its planned closing date, allowing the workforce time to transition to new employment, while helping generate revenue for environmental cleanup. As Chairman of the Energy and Power Subcommittee, I will continue working with his colleagues to advance this important legislation.
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