Cynthia M Lummis

Joblessness in Wyoming - July 21, 2009

Cynthia M Lummis
July 21, 2009— U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC
Congressional floor speech
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I thank the gentleman from Utah for yielding. The chart he shows is exactly right. The fact that Wyoming chose to develop its mining resources and Montana chose a path that retarded the development of its mining resources is the difference in the teacher salaries, as pointed out in that chart.

We have been blessed in Wyoming by having low unemployment and it created an opportunity, until recently, for people from other States who have suffered job losses to find gainful employment and make a new life in Wyoming.

A number of families have relocated, especially from Michigan, to the State of Wyoming, and predominantly the community of Gillette. Gillette, Wyoming, has become Wyoming's third-largest city and is growing in a way that brings young families vibrancy, activity, and the arts and recreation to a wonderful Wyoming community in northeast Wyoming.

It's brought a lot of new people to Wyoming from Michigan looking for a new life and looking for work. Many of them came from the automobile industry and manufacturing industries and mining industries, quite frankly, that were devastated due to the economic downturn. But they were able to find jobs in Wyoming, and we're so happy to have them.

Then, along comes Waxman-Markey, a bill that creates a national energy tax and a bill that creates a tremendous threat, especially to coal mining jobs.

Jobs in the Wyoming mining industry are high paying. Eighty-six percent higher than the average wage in the State. The average annual wage in the mining industry in Wyoming was $73,000 in 2007. It is an extraordinarily livable wage in Wyoming.

But, if you look at the total coal mining jobs in the U.S. and the changes in policy under Waxman-Markey and other bills going through this Congress, the outlook for those Michigan residents who have proudly relocated to Wyoming is not very prosperous.

Job losses related to Waxman-Markey, optimistic projections, total U.S. job loss in 5 years: 14,000 jobs lost in coal mining alone. A pessimistic number for job losses 5 years from now in coal mining alone: 35,000 jobs.

Let's project it out because, as you know, Waxman-Markey doesn't take effect completely until the year 2050, but let's just go out 10 years and 15 years.

The projected loss in jobs in 10 years due to Waxman-Markey, under the most optimistic scenario that can be put together: 20,000 jobs lost in coal mining alone. And the pessimistic number: 67,000 jobs. That's the entire population of my community of Cheyenne, and then some.

Of course, 20 years out the optimistic job loss in coal alone: 50,000 people. And the pessimistic number: 125,000 people in coal alone. These are not jobs that can be replaced by green jobs. These green jobs are not projected to pay 86 percent higher than the average wage in my State.

Not only is the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, the national energy tax, an attack on coal-producing States around the Nation, but other bills going through this Congress are having the same consequence.

Let's take, for example, the Interior Appropriations bill that just passed the House. It had a provision in it that when a company acquires a Federal lease to mine more coal, they will pay a bid bonus payment. That occurs now. The problem is, these bid bonus payments are such a large amount of money that they have been spread out over 5 years so the companies can borrow less money or use production that they're currently accomplishing to pay in 5-year increments for those big coal bid bonus payments.

Under the Interior Appropriations bill that just passed this House, they will have to pay that all up front. These are staggeringly large numbers, in the tens of millions and sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars.

Companies in this financial crisis cannot borrow those kinds of moneys. Consequently, there will be companies that will not bid, thereby reducing the receipts to the American taxpayer when there's not competitive bidding for the coal or there may be no bids at all because no company can borrow enough money to pay the entire 5-year payment up front.

One little amendment in an enormous bill that has tremendous consequences to coal mining jobs went through without discussion, and there are many such amendments in these bills every day that are an attack on jobs in this country, an attack on jobs in my State. The attack on jobs in the Appalachian States is unbelievable under the cap-and-trade bill. If I were in an Appalachian State, I would be even more concerned than I am for my State of Wyoming, and as the number one coal-producing State in the country, I am tremendously concerned about the loss of jobs.

These policies are not good for America. They're not good for my State. They're not good for the West, and they're certainly not good for the hardworking people of America.

I thank Mr. Bishop of Utah for allowing me the time to speak this evening.

155 Congr. Rec. 8476. (2009).