Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield the customary 30 minutes to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Hastings), pending which I yield myself such time as I may consume. During consideration of this resolution, all time yielded is for the purpose of debate only.
Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Burgess) for yielding me the customary 30 minutes, and I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I would like to begin my remarks by correcting my friend from Texas with reference to his 1-minute statement previous to the time that we began the rule.
As I understood him, he said that for the last 20 months, Democrats have controlled every level of power. Somewhere along the line, I think my friend must be very confused about what the responsibilities of the United States House of Representatives is and are.
That said, my recollection is that in this Congress, which has consumed 6 months, and in the previous one, which took 2 years, that my friends in the Republican Party have controlled the House of Representatives. Unless there is no longer one level of power in Washington, something is misunderstood by me.
Mr. Speaker, the House faces a number of pressing issues that have bipartisan support and that we could be addressing in our limited time before the August recess. For example, we could be reforming in a comprehensive manner our Nation's immigration system. We could be ending the sequester. I have not met a Democrat or a Republican that did not say that the sequester was a bad idea. We could be addressing the doubling of student loan interest rates. We could be having a conference on a farm bill,
or we could be appointing--something that I still find very strange--we could be appointing budget conferees.
It used to be that having a conference around this place was a real opportunity for Members, and Members sought to be on the conference. I know my first experience I was fascinated by the fact that I'm on a conference with the other body, the United States Senate. Little did I know that their rules provided for them to vote by proxy, but I came to learn that perhaps it wasn't as important as I thought it was, but it is important to the process.
But for any of these important issues to be addressed, Members would have to work together to resolve their differences. Instead, we're spending our time on two bills that my friends across the aisle know will never become law. I don't have to be a betting person to bet anybody in this institution that what we are discussing here today will not become the law of the land. The reason that I know that is we've already done it four times, this same measure, and it didn't see the light of day in
the other body. This one ain't going to either.
These bills today show what I've been saying for quite some time now, and it's that my Republican colleagues really are not manifesting interest in actually fixing our country's problems. In fact, it seems that they're more happy to simply bring Congress to a standstill and call that success.
Mr. Speaker, political victories are not victories for struggling families. In case these bills are not clear enough evidence, my friends recently released their messaging plan for the August work period in our respective districts. That plan is called ``Fighting Washington for All Americans.'' Wow. Despite the irony, I would almost want to call it hypocrisy of sitting Members of Congress trying to paint themselves as outsiders and reformers while ignoring their key role in creating the gridlock.
Fighting Washington for All Americans urges Members to consider Washington as a place where nothing good happens, so the less governing that gets done, the better. Yet these two bills today completely contradict those ideas.
H.R. 1582 gives the Department of Energy unprecedented authority to veto Environmental Protection Agency-related regulations. Not only does the bill prevent the EPA from finalizing critical public health and environmental rules, it instructs the Department of Energy to conduct a duplicative and convoluted analysis without any new resources. These are the people that say bureaucracy is a problem, and yet they're creating additional bureaucracy within the framework of these two measures.
I said yesterday in the Rules Committee I would be astounded at how much time it's going to take the Energy Department and the EPA to coordinate their efforts. Evidently, these people haven't been trying to talk to these bureaucrats the way that I have over the course of time, and it requires, this measure does, extra examination, despite the Office of Management and Budget's interagency review of all regulations, which includes the Department of Energy, in the review of EPA rules.
I did a little research, Mr. Speaker, on how many times over the course of the time that I've been here that Members on the other side have offered measures, that did not become law, to abolish the Department of Energy. Hear me loud and clear: to abolish the Department of Energy.
Now we come today, after that having been done numerous times, we come today and the Energy Department is the answer. These same people wanted to, I guess everything with an ``E'' that's in the Cabinet, they wanted the Department of EPA to be abolished at one time, the Department of Education. They need to change their acronyms over there or else they'll find themselves abolished, if they don't get past A, B, C, D--E. [Page: H4997]
Not only does the bill prevent the EPA from finalizing critical public health and environmental rules, it instructs the Department of Energy to do, as I said, duplicative measures.
As for H.R. 2218, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act, the second bill being considered under this rule today, it encourages, in my view, a race to the bottom, where the State willing to have the least protections will become the dumping ground for the entire country.
I said last night that I would be mad today. I tempered myself with my passion over my reflections of my comments in the Rules Committee, but I cannot but return to them when I think of the community that I live in, and have lived in for now coming up on 51 years, where every one of the Superfund Brownfields was in the minority community. Every dump that ever dumped anything in Broward County was in minority communities--treatment waste across the street from where I live, and I guess perhaps
these people have not had those experiences.
While there are certainly inefficiencies within the Federal Government--and they are numerous--the 2008 coal ash spill in Kingston, Tennessee, is evidence that the Environmental Protection Agency has an important role to play in protecting our Nation's public health.
This bill would allow States to undertake permitting programs for the management of coal ash; and let me talk about what's in coal ash. People seem to think that coal ash is all of this great stuff. Coal ash has in it mercury, lead, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, if you can say that. These are things that are poisonous. And yes, it is true that we have managed under the regulations to constrain ourselves with many of these products that have been utilized for benefit, but do not mistake arsenic
and cadmium and lead for anything other than harmful products.
The Federal environmental standards that are put forward here do not take into contemplation how important it is to establish uniform protections for our Nation's health and environment.
Let me return to the Kingston, Tennessee, situation. The Tennessee Valley Authority is still paying in excess of $1 billion, somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion for taking this stuff and dumping it in Uniontown, Alabama, 100 feet from where people live; and, I suggest, as is the case in the community that I am privileged to serve, where people that are friends of mine have died as a result of not coal ash but dumps being in their communities and incinerators burning it, and it's the
same in many respects.
I compliment Florida Power & Light, the largest utility in my State, for destroying their two coal ash plants in Fort Lauderdale, and we still find that Florida Power & Light still manages their business well enough to make handsome profits.
As far as electric rates going up, I would suggest to my friend, it's sort of like health care measures. And I continue to ask everybody, tell me the day, before there was anything called ObamaCare, tell me the day when your insurance rates for health went down. Tell me the day that your utilities went down. I don't recall any period where that happened; and somewhere along the line, we need to address these things in meaningful ways.
Different standards in each State provide an economic incentive to send coal ash to the State with the lowest level of regulation. This bill will not ensure the safe disposal of coal ash or make current law any stronger.
Fighting Washington--that's what you're getting ready to say in August--does not keep our air and water clean. Fighting Washington does not provide the sick with medical treatment. Fighting Washington does not
keep Wall Street from preying on the American people. Fighting Washington does not provide student loans for children who aren't going to be able to return to school this year because of the prohibitive costs.
Fighting Washington does not provide immigration reform in a comprehensive manner. And somewhere along the line we have to understand there are more than 11 million people in this country that are here illegally. And I can point to you people that work right around this Capitol--and a few that are in it--that we rely upon, that we need to straighten this law out about. But we prefer to fight Washington.
Fighting Washington doesn't help the Centers for Disease Control prevent us from having diseases. At Robert E. Lee High School in Fairfax County, one of the best counties for education in this country, they've had a recall of students for tuberculosis, something I thought we had pretty much abolished. But when we can't find the necessary research money and we can't find the necessary provisions--largely because we're fighting Washington--then we're going to have other outbreaks like that that
we have to contend with.
Fighting Washington doesn't provide the National Institutes of Health the things to do to provide women's health and male research in order for us to better the health of the United States of America.
Fighting Washington makes for great talking points, and might even make for great fundraising. It might make for a good bumper sticker, but it is far from a serious strategy to actually make this country better. A better title than ``Fighting Washington for Americans'' would be ``Washington Fighting for Americans.''
Now this do-nothing Congress, and I've been here 21 years, is giving new meaning to do nothing. And all of this repealing things didn't just start this year. Next week, we'll be back here on the floor talking more repeal. We're going to have something called the REINS Act. We're real good up here at naming things--R-E-I-N-S. We're going to be doing some more repealing.
But in the 112th Congress--I looked back--we had 137 votes to block actions to prevent pollution. We had 55 votes targeted at the Department of Energy. We had 57 votes to defund or repeal clean energy initiatives. We had 47 votes to promote offshore drilling. We had 81 votes targeted at the Department of the Interior. We had 87 votes to undermine protections for public lands and wilderness. We had 53 votes to block actions that address climate change. We had 38 votes to dismantle the Clean Water
Act. So 317 repeal votes. I've changed you-all's name. It's no longer the Republicans; it's the ``Repealicans.'' You must be people that just repeal.
And over in the other body, they're ``Republistructionists'' because their whole objective--and that gets ignored here when we start talking about who's responsible for what. It gets ignored that the minority in the other body has arcane rules that permit them to block everything, and that's what they've done, everything you haven't blocked or sought to repeal. Here we have been trying to get health care for people, and you-all are voting to repeal health care 39 different times.
I'm tired of voting on that kind of stuff. I want to vote on something that's going to provide some jobs for America. I want to vote on something that's going to help some students have some jobs when they get out of school. I want to vote on something that's going to allow for technology and innovation to catch up with what's going on in the world. I want to make sure that we exact our responsibilities, particularly with reference to education.
I just left a meeting with homeless providers and nonprofits. I want to make sure that there's Meals on Wheels. I want to vote on something to make sure that every child has an equal opportunity for a very good education in this country. I want to vote on something that's going to look 50 years down the road to what America looks like, and not 50 months from now, or not 1 month from now in August when you're going to be fighting Washington.
I'm going to be up here with you in Washington, and we are consummate insiders, and it's ridiculous for you to go home and try to tell somebody you're anything other than that. And you do control one-third of the legislative body. And you do have exacting responsibilities given to you under Article I that you're not exercising. You have the Ways and Means' ability. You have the numbers to undertake to do those things.
So, yeah, I'm mad. And I think many in America are mad, too, with a Congress that's doing nothing.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. McKINLEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the rule.
For over 33 years, Congress has wrestled unproductively on how to deal with coal ash, which is an unavoidable by-product of burning coal.
The bill before us today provides a resolution, finally, to this issue and avoids kicking the can down the road.
H.R. 2218 has two parts. The first part codifies the previous EPA studies that were conducted in 1993 and 2000 under Bill Clinton, both of them. I have copies of it here. And perhaps those that need to read those reports would understand that in the 1993 and in the 2000 reports, they concluded that coal ash is a nonhazardous material and should be beneficially recycled for use in products such as concrete block, brick, wallboard, and used in our roads and bridges across America.
The second part, unfortunately they're not aware of it yet, but if they'd read the bill, they would find that it has been significantly rewritten since last year. We listened to what people were saying. We listened to the EPA, we listened to the administration, and incorporated those into this bill, so that this second part now provides for all new and existing landfills to be State run, using a Federal law known as RCRA, which in and of itself incorporates the Federal guidelines for protecting
``human health and the environment.''
Consequently, disposal requirements under H.R. 2218 will require composite liners, dust control, groundwater monitoring, financial assurances, emergency action plans, inspections, and structural stability, just to name a few. In fact, the EPA states that RCRA's primary goals are to:
Protect human health and the environment, to reduce the amount of waste generated, and to ensure that wastes are managed in an environmentally sound manner.
For the first time, there will be a uniform national standard for disposing of coal ash. However, as you just heard, you hear opponents of this legislation state this legislation does not protect human health and the environment. But quite frankly, that's not the case.
H.R. 2218 not only includes nine different references and sections of RCRA which protect human health and environment, but also incorporates the existing RCRA part 258 regulation.
To use the words of the EPA, ``EPA believes that part 258 criteria represents a reasonable balance ensuring the protection of human health and the environment.''
The opponents of this measure seem to lack a fundamental understanding, Mr. Speaker. There are jobs at stake here, 316,000 jobs across America. It's really that simple.
A compromise is available. Anyone who opposes this rule will continue to support the status quo. If we do nothing, coal ash, which is generated every day in 48 of the 50 States, will continue to be disposed of. The status the way it's been since the 1950s and '60s and the unwarranted stigma that's associated with recycled materials will continue.
Fortunately, finally, today, after listening and compromising and working together, there appears to be an emerging consensus to allow for the beneficial recycle of coal ash, and the concerns raised by a previous Congress have been addressed.
Mr. Speaker, after 33 years of fussing with this issue, it's time to put it to rest.
Mr. BISHOP of New York. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
I rise in opposition to the rule, and urge my colleagues to defeat the previous question so that the House can consider pro-consumer, job-protecting legislation, the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act, which would deter the sale of gasoline at excessive prices.
I introduced this legislation so that my constituents and Long Island businesses are not harmed by unscrupulous business practices designed solely to increase profit margins.
My constituents are facing rising prices at nearly every turn, on top of stagnated wage growth. They're worried about paying for college, paying the mortgage, saving for retirement, or just paying for groceries. They're also wondering what Congress is doing for them to create jobs and to raise their standard of living.
AAA estimates gas prices are expected to increase as the summer continues. In fact, AAA reports that the average price per gallon is up to $4 on Long Island from $3.87 a week ago. This comes as Americans are heading to Long Island's beaches, historic villages, and open spaces. Excessive gas [Page: H4999]
prices will cost Long Island businesses and jobs, and that's something that we cannot let happen on Long Island or anywhere else in this country.
The east coast is also in the midst of hurricane season, which can bring out the unscrupulous who would take advantage of hardworking families, as we witnessed in the aftermath of Sandy. In fact, just this week a New York State judge fined one Long Island gas station, and two others have reached settlements with the New York
Attorney General's Office for price gouging.
This Congress should protect those harmed by natural disasters so they don't have to worry about price gouging while they rebuild their homes, communities, businesses, and livelihoods. Let's do it now before the next crisis erupts.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to defeat the previous question, support consumers and jobs, and support the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act.