[r63] Looking out for Hoosier families

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, July 11, 2014

The coal industry has played an integral role in our nation’s history, and District 63 is very close to the heart of it all. Information on the Institute of Energy Research’s website reveals that from a global standpoint, the United States has the largest coal reserves in the world, enough to last us another 250 years. 

Living where we do, chances are you, or someone you know, has built their entire livelihood around this industry. The accessibility and quantity of coal has financially sustained families for generations and has also provided the United States with, what is often considered, its most reliable energy source. 

In fact, it was coal that kept us all warm during this most recent winter, which was unlike any we had seen in quite some time. According to the National Coal Council, 92 percent of the increased electricity demands this winter were covered by coal-fired generation plants. The sad reality though is that Hoosiers may soon face winters without these plants. 

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave Indiana three years to come up with a plan to cut carbon emissions by 20 percent; a plan which in some cases could cause certain plants to shut down their operations completely. For the past couple decades, the coal industry has spent billions in ratepayer dollars to improve their technology, meet EPA regulatory standards and perform more efficiently. Unfortunately however, it seems that this is still not enough. As a lifelong resident of this region, the debate over coal is something I have followed closely for years, and this most recent news is particularly alarming to me. 

As a state legislator, you hear me talk a lot about jobs and industry. I have long made these issues my top priority as I know that these are the things that matter most to you. More industry means more jobs, and more jobs mean more opportunities for Hoosiers to provide for their families and create their own American Dream. For years, coal has been a crucial factor in attracting businesses to Indiana. Low-cost electricity generated from coal has given us a competitive advantage that now stands to be stripped away. 

Not to mention, by reducing our coal production, we will be forced to look towards other energy sources, which are significantly more expensive for Hoosier families. By driving up the cost of electricity, it will also drive up the overall cost of living in our state at a time when many families are just starting to feel some economic relief.    

I truly feel that these new EPA regulations could be devastating to our state and local economies. Few people know the importance of coal as much as we do, and few regions stand to feel the impact of these regulations as much as southwest Indiana. So, where do we go from here?

Recently, Governor Pence urged Indiana’s Congressional Delegation to prevent the EPA from implementing these newly proposed regulations through legislative action. To protect our economy and this invaluable energy source for our state, I stand by the governor and will continue to support his efforts to prevent these new regulations from taking effect.