Mining & Energy
I have long been a leader on mining and energy issues, recognizing the need to develop our domestic energy resources, while ensuring protections for our lands, our communities, and our people.
Having served on the House Natural Resources Committee for thirty-four years, the last four as Chairman, I have been actively engaged in the aggressive oversight and reform of many of the Nation’s antiquated federal mining laws to bring them in line with the public interest. Throughout my career, I have championed greater protections for mining communities, spearheading drives to legislatively extend the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) program and provide funding to combat health, safety, and environmental threats from the remnants of former mine sites. I have helped coalfield communities finance public water systems and been successful in ensuring that AML monies would continue to finance long guaranteed health care benefits for retired coal miners and their dependents.
Powering America for a Brighter Future
I have endeavored to ensure that America produces the energy it needs to fuel a strong economy, particularly through the use of coal, America’s most abundant natural energy resource.
From programs aimed at generating cleaner electricity using coal to those that would promote the development of liquid transportation fuels from coal, I have long worked to clear the way for coal to address our energy challenges more cleanly, efficiently, and affordably. I have worked to prevent unfair regulatory requirements that could undermine coal jobs, increase energy prices for working families, and reduce energy reliability.
In addition, while welcoming the growth of the natural gas industry in West Virginia, I have supported policies that would balance that growth with conservation and protection of property-owner’s rights. Looking ahead to intensifying international competition for energy and increasing concerns about the world’s changing climate, I remain determined to help find workable, long-term solutions to America’s energy challenges.
I certainly recognize the hardship that rising fuel costs have on West Virginians, especially those on fixed incomes. I have long advocated a sustainable, long-term energy policy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Our Nation should invest in new energy research and technologies aimed at taking full advantage of our domestic energy resources.
I am a lead sponsor of the Clean Coal-Derived Fuels for Energy Security Act, which would promote technology to develop coal-to-liquid (CTL) fuels that could be used to supplement oil-based fuels. I also support legislation that would increase the supply and help to lower the cost of gasoline by releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and combat market manipulation and speculation, as well as making it illegal to sell gasoline at excessive prices, curbing price gouging.
Keeping our Miners Safe
I am an ardent advocate of coal miners and their families. I have strived throughout my career to ensure that mining companies and the government ensure safe, healthy working environments for all miners.
In 2006, following the mine tragedies at Sago and Alma, I helped to guide landmark mine safety legislation through the Congress. The MINER Act, which was promptly signed into law, imposed new national safety requirements aimed at helping miners survive and escape from mine accidents. Immediately after the passage of the MINER Act, I turned my attention to legislative efforts aimed at shoring up safety laws to prevent mine accidents from happening in the first place. I am a leading sponsor of the Robert C. Byrd Mine Safety Protection Act, a bill written specifically to address the lessons learned as a result of the tragic loss of 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia. That bill would provide greater powers for the Mine Safety and Health Administration to oversee, reign in, and correct mining operations with a record of poor safety practices and it would punish those who break the law and put miners at risk. My fight to secure passage of that legislation continues.