“Mr. Chairman, if I may, I’d like to take this discussion in a different direction…”
Those words, spoken by Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.), came in the middle of Wednesday’s hearing for the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. But while the official topic of the meeting was “ensuring sound science at the Environmental Protective Agency,” Palmer wanted to also ensure that the real consequences of the committee’s actions would not be forgotten.
His aim was to shed light on how coal policy – specifically the unnecessary war on coal wrought by the Obama administration and the EPA – has affected hardworking Americans. No, Palmer did not jump into a long-winded argument rife with legal speak and inflated political rhetoric – as one would expect a politician to do.
Instead, he just let the voices of regular Americans do the talking.
What followed was an emotional video testimony from laid-off coal minders:
“I had planned to work there ‘til I retired…”
“I’ve been in the coal industry for 31 years. I thought I would never have to look for another job.”
“Think about the families you’re affecting, think about all the jobs you’re closing down.”
“You got a lot of people depending on you, and now you’re gonna have to figure out how to provide for them.”
“What does our future hold?”
The voices went on and on, all the unheard voices of the American people who’ve been left behind by misguided policy.
Palmer added his own voice to the dialogue after the video ended.
“To sit here and have this discussion about all these regulations and try to deny that they have an impact on people, you know, you are having an impact and unnecessarily so,” Palmer said. “You’ve destroyed thousands of jobs, impacted thousands of families all over the country, and I for one don’t look at them as collateral damage.”