Sen. Jim Inhofe
Hearing on S. 556
November 1, 2001
When drafting S. 556, I am afraid that our Chairman has not come close to fully considering all the issues associated with his proposal.† If such legislation is to ever be enacted into law, the compromise, unlike S. 556, must contemplate and balance our nationís existing environmental achievements and energy supply and security.†
First, I believe S. 556 to be inequitable to require an across the board reduction in pollutants when states, such as Oklahoma, currently emit well below the national averages.† According to EPA, Oklahoma is in attainment with ambient air quality standards for all six criteria air pollutants - carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, lead, PM, ozone and sulfur dioxide. ††Let me specifically address SOx, NOx, Mercury, and Carbon emissions in Oklahoma:
SOx:† Oklahoma coal fired power plants had an average SO2 emission rate, which is approximately half of the US national average coal fired emission rate.† As a result, Oklahoma already over-complies with its Phase II Acid Rain program allocation by 27 percent.†
NOx:† Oklahomaís coal-fired stations had an average NOX emission rate of roughly 20 percent below the national coal-fired emission and 10 percent below its 1995 average rate.
Mercury:† According to EPA Oklahoma mercury emissions from coal fired utility boilers are 1.8% of the nationwide total.
Carbon:† The regulation of CO2 would make the price and availability of energy a national crisis B at a scale that our nation has never before experienced.
Oklahoma's environmental profile mirrors that of many western states.† Oklahoma does not have SOx, NOx, or Mercury problems.† Therefore, before we are asked to reduce our emissions even further, other states in the Midwest and North East should be expected to get their emission levels down to the levels cleaner states are today.† It is ridiculous to impose percentage reductions on us† -- at enormous marginal expense -- before those regions who have significant air problems do their part.
Secondly, by limiting fuel options for power generation, increasing the cost of electricity to Americans, and stopping the construction of new generating facilities, S. 556 is the very antithesis of sound national energy policy.† Coal-fired units provide 61.2 percent of the Oklahomaís electric generation.† S. 556 would significantly change the source of energy in Oklahoma away from coal.† Oklahoma utilities depend upon coal for power because of its much lower fuel cost versus natural gas and itís a clean source of energy.† Since fuel costs account for the bulk of electric generating costs, Oklahomaís coal use has kept power rates lower than neighboring states of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Texas.†
According to the US Department of Energy, Oklahoma utility rates averaged 5.37 cents per kilo Watt Hour.† That is 19 percent less that the national average power rate.† These utility rates are much lower than states that depend heavily upon natural gas (e.g.† New York, New Jersey, California ) or oil/renewables (e.g. Maine) for generation.
When legislation is rushed into effect without adequate thought, it is likely to do more harm than good.† Let=s not forget.† When the price of energy rises that means the less fortunate in our society must make a decision between keeping the heat and lights on or paying for other essential needs.†
As a Senator and grandfather, I want to ensure the cleanest environment for our Nation.† The real challenge with dealing with this issue isnít getting just environmental protection or just affordable energy.† The real challenge is getting both.† S. 556 does not even come close to getting us both, and a compromise is a lot of hard work away.† That is why, with so many enormous issues to tackle pertaining to S. 556 or other similar legislation, I think a markup in the near future would be a futile and divisive exercise.† Rather than simply marking up a bill, which would be dead-on-arrival, a much more constructive exercise for the Committee would be to work on a compromise with Energy, Interior, and EPA and all the other relevant agencies and stakeholders.†