America's abundant natural resources help meet our nation's energy needs and provide the raw materials for many industries. While our natural resources require responsible governance, bureaucracies like the Environmental Protection Agency have often proposed crippling regulations that make energy and manufacturing far too expensive.
U.S. Rep. Rokita is committed to sound policies that unleash the economic power of our natural resources to create good jobs for Hoosiers. By speaking up for Hoosiers who suffer under red tape from the EPA and other agencies, he's working to ensure that environmental regulations don't stifle economic growth.
Located about 50 miles west of Indianapolis, the Buzzi Unicem USA plant near Greencastle employs 170 Hoosiers and produces 1.5 million tons of Portland cement every year. In order to produce the high-performance cement, Buzzi Unicem takes in and utilizes coal combustion residuals, such as fly ash and bottom ash. These residuals are byproducts of coal-burning plants that many industries dispose of as waste.
In an effort to reduce its environmental impact, Buzzi Unicem USA uses nearly 90,000 tons of fly ash per year as raw material similar to the natural sands found in most cement, along with replacing some of its coal use with natural fuels. Despite the many safe uses of fly ash, the EPA began investigations into regulating the product as a hazardous waste, which would overrule the state laws that Indiana legislators have passed.
If these regulations were to be enacted, the many manufacturers who use fly ash would face significant regulatory burdens. This could force Buzzi Unicem USA to ship more fly ash outside of the facility, instead of using it safely within the plant.
Facing this potential regulatory nightmare, Buzzi Unicem officials contacted U.S. Rep. Rokita's office with their concerns.
Rokita helped lead the fight for H.R. 2218, the Coal Residuals and Management Act, which would give states, and not distant federal bureaucrats, the ability to regulate fly ash. On July 25, 2013, Rokita was one of 265 members from both parties in the House of Representatives to vote to pass the bill.
"As a company committed to sustainable manufacturing at our cement plant in Greencastle, Indiana, Buzzi Unicem appreciates Congressman Rokita's efforts to minimize the effects of increased regulations. The result of H.R. 2218 will be to regulate the disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals as non-hazardous wastes. These residuals are valuable ingredients in the manufacture of Portlant cement, used for the construction of highways, bridges, schools, and commercial buildings," said John Kass, Greencastle plant manager.
"Given the difficult economic times many American families and businesses face, it never ceases to amaze me the lengths federal bureaucrats go to weaken sectors of our economy with unnecessary regulations. I will continue working to protect businesses like Buzzi Unicem from unnecessary federal regulations," Rokita said.
That's one more Red Tape Rollback Victory for Rokita and the manufacturers and workers of Indiana.
The inherent energy efficiency of the ceiling fan industry did not prevent the Department of Energy from targeting fan manufacturers in introducing new, stricter energy efficiency standards. On March 11, 2013, the Department of Energy released a 101-page rulemaking framework document evaluating potential energy-savings requirements on ceiling fans through new regulations. However, the report overlooks the fact that the new regulations would significantly impair the ability of manufacturers to produce reasonably priced, highly decorative fans.
To prevent the Department of Energy from finalizing this destructive regulation, Representative Todd Rokita partnered with Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee to co-author an amendment to H.R. 2609, the Fiscal Year 2014 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, that would prevent any funds from being used by the Department of Energy to finalize, implement, or enforce the proposed ceiling fan energy standards rule.
The amendment was adopted into the bill by a voice vote on the floor of the House of Representatives on July 10, 2013. On July 11, 2013, H.R. 2609 passed the House of Representatives with the amendment included. This is a Red Tape Rollback victory!
U.S. Rep. Rokita said, "The disregard the Obama Energy Department bureaucrats have for the practical implications of their red tape is outrageous. Instead of enacting policies to ensure Americans have access to abundant, affordable energy—the life blood of our economy—they are issuing regulations attacking ceiling fans, the most energy efficient cooling devices on the market. These counterproductive regulations will only drive up the prices of ceiling fans and encourage the use of less energy efficient cooling systems. This is yet another example of this administration double dipping in the pockets of Americans: using taxpayer dollars to raise prices on consumers."
Headquartered atop the heart of the Illinois Basin coal seam, Sunrise Coal mines some of the finest coal from beneath the Hoosier state. As Sunrise removes natural fuels from the earth, it increases the wealth of the State of Indiana with surface and underground operations yielding more than 3 million tons of coal each year. While directly employing 300 Hoosiers, Sunrise indirectly adds roughly 1,500 jobs and $55 million to the region's economy.
Coal is undoubtedly one of Indiana's most important natural resources. It quite literally keeps the lights on for Hoosiers from the Ohio River to Lake Michigan. However, the Obama administration's energy agenda threatens to take away the bedrock of the Hoosier economy through the "War on Coal." On September 20, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency took its biggest step towards effectively outlawing coal-powered electric generating plants by announcing a harsh carbon emissions standard for all new power plants.
Based on current emission levels, new plants will have to capture and store about 40% of their carbon emissions, despite there being no technology on the market that allows plants to do so. What is even more troubling is the necessity of these regulations. Since 1970, greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants have been reduced 80% while the country has nearly tripled its reliance on coal-fired power. Because nearly 40% of electricity in the United States is generated by coal, the effects could be devastating to the national economy.
The Obama War on Coal especially impacts Hoosiers. The coal industry supports more than 6,210 direct and 28,680 indirect Hoosier jobs related to coal mining. To protect the thousands of Hoosiers who depend on the coal industry for their livelihood, U.S. Rep. Rokita co-sponsored the Coal Jobs Protection Act. This bill prevents the EPA from holding the permitting process hostage by putting the EPA on the clock and restoring decision-making power to the states, rather than Washington bureaucrats.
The coal industry is a driver of the Hoosier economy. In addition to providing some of the lowest-cost electricity in the nation, the coal industry contributes more than $750 million to the Indiana economy. Indiana is consistently among the top ten coal-producing states in the nation, producing an average of 32-35 million tons each year. These producers will see the impacts of the War on Coal first-hand.
"The new carbon emission standards set by the EPA for coal-fired power plants cannot be achieved with existing technology, said Suzanne Jaworowski of Sunrise Coal. "This will very likely cause power companies to make all their new infrastructure and long term planning decisions based solely on utilizing natural gas. This mentality, born out of fear of what the EPA will do next, is short-sighted and once enacted, cannot be reversed for years or decades."
Finally, all Hoosiers will see negative effects of the War on Coal in their electricity bill. With between 80-90% of electricity in Indiana generated from coal-based power plants, Hoosiers will experience anywhere from a 40% to 200% increase in the cost of electricity.
"When you only have one type of major fuel source, with no competitive alternative, the price of that fuel is going to escalate dramatically. Economists predict this very scenario will happen, and we'll see natural gas prices rise at an alarming rate. In turn, if electricity prices rise, the price of everything else rises: from bread to cars, everything will be more expensive," said Jaworowski.
To protect Hoosier jobs and the Indiana economy, U.S. Rep. Rokita is committed to fighting against Obama's War on Coal. "Federal bureaucrats and politicians beholden to radical environmental special interests ignore it, but the truth is, when we pull coal out of the ground it creates wealth and improves the standard of living for all of our citizens. Coal keeps the lights on in Indiana and much of the rest of the nation, and as such, I will continue fighting the Obama administration's efforts to bankrupt the coal industry."
First, he is a co-author of H.R. 2916, the Domestic Energy Production Protection Act, which requires congressional approval of any EPA regulations that would lower domestic energy production. U.S. Rep. Rokita is also a co-sponsor of a number of bills that directly relate to the War on Coal. He has been vocal in his opposition to coal regulations, writing letters to the President as well as the EPA.
U.S. Rep. Rokita is a co-sponsor of House Joint Resolution 64, which disapproves of the EPA's recent regulations imposing burdensome pollution standards on future coal- burning plants. U.S. Rep. Rokita also co-sponsored the Ensure Reliable and Affordable American Energy Act, which delays the implementation of new EPA emissions regulations until other countries, comprising at least 80 percent of non-U.S. global carbon dioxide emissions, enact regulations that are at least as stringent as the EPA's new standards.
As the EPA toured the country for "listening sessions" about the dangers of coal on the environment, the administration targeted areas where their views would not be met with opposition. With sessions in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Denver, San Francisco, Dallas, Seattle, Chicago, and Washington, DC, these ten states and the District of Columbia generate an average of 26% of their electricity from coal. Rep. Rokita co-sponsored House Concurrent Resolution 59, which expressed the sense of Congress that listening sessions should be held in the top coal-producing states, rather than those that rank near the bottom. By encouraging the EPA to listen to the public, this resolution would force the EPA to listen to the voices of those that they are hurting.
The regulatory process to open a mine can take a decade. With bipartisan support, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 761, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Product Act. This bill expedites the review process and restricts frivolous lawsuits.
U.S. Rep. Rokita is fighting for H.R. 935, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, which clarifies regulatory jurisdiction over pesticides, storm water discharge, and ship maintenance.
U.S. Rep. Rokita has been advocating for H.R. 2093, the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act which would cut back on red tape by eliminating requirements that re-certification training be "hands on". With H.R. 2093, remodelers would no longer have to travel to training facilities out of their region. This bill would also reinstate the opt-out provision to allow home owners without small children or pregnant women more options in determining how to respond to the presence of lead paint in their home.
To preserve Congressional oversight of regulatory agencies, U.S. Rep. Rokita co-sponsored H.R. 2916, the Domestic Energy Production Protection Act. This legislation requires Congressional approval for any Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that impact domestic energy production.
New Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations would put American energy producers at a severe disadvantage in the global marketplace. U.S. Rep. Rokita co-sponsored H.R. 3140, the Ensure Reliable and Affordable American Energy Act which would delay the implementation of these rules until such time as a strong majority of nations adopt similar regulations.