Friday, September 24, 2010

Inhofe: EPA Rules Threaten The Economy

The Hill

Op-Ed: EPA rules threaten the economy

By Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.)

09/22/10

Link to Op-Ed  

Also see EPW POLICY BEAT: BOILING POINT 

On Labor Day in Milwaukee, President Obama vowed to "keep fighting every single day, every single hour, every single minute, to turn this economy around and put people back to work and renew the American Dream." Stirring rhetoric, no doubt; but to the employees at Thilmany Papers, a company that employs 850 people in two specialty paper mills in Wisconsin, it means little.

That's because the Obama Environmental Protection Agency is threatening their livelihoods. The threat comes from EPA's proposal to regulate industrial boilers, the Boiler MACT rule. As with most EPA rules, the Boiler MACT (maximum achievable control technology standards) sounds arcane, and seems to be the remote province of federal technocrats. This is certainly true, but its impact will be pervasive and damaging. Here's what Thilmany had to say about it: "Our business, like many others, encounters many challenges. However, none threaten the continued existence of our business like this [proposed rule]."

The United Steelworkers (USW) union emphatically opposes the Boiler MACT proposal. As the USW sees it, the proposal "will be sufficient to imperil the operating status of many industrial plants." The USW represents hundreds of thousands of workers, "in the most heavily impacted industries, among them pulp & paper, steel, and rubber." In the union's view, "Tens of thousands of these jobs will be imperiled. In addition, many more tens of thousands of jobs in the supply chains and in the communities where these plants are located also will be at risk."

The Industrial Energy Consumers of America (IECA), which represents major manufacturers with more than 750,000 employees, couldn't have been more adamant: "We cannot emphasize more forcefully the need to the EPA to completely rethink this rule." That's because IECA's member companies "are enormously concerned that the high costs of this proposed rule will leave companies no recourse but to shut down the entire facility, not just the boiler."

It would be one thing if the Boiler MACT were an isolated instance of a flawed policy. But this flawed policy is part of a larger Obama EPA agenda to set industrial policy for the nation. EPA's industrial policy should frighten those who hold jobs in factories across America - indeed, for those who aspire to live the American dream. For EPA's policy sees a growing, thriving, job-creating manufacturing sector as incompatible with its unique brand of environmentalism.

The most prominent manifestation of EPA's anti-industrial policy is the agency's pending regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. EPA's rules will extend the federal bureaucracy into every corner of American life. The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council believes EPA's global warming regulations will cause "a cessation of expansion, hiring, investment, construction and new business start-up activity." EPA's new rules will require, among many other things, businesses of all kinds - from cement and steel plants to auto parts manufacturers to Wal-Marts - to obtain from EPA costly and time-consuming permits for construction and expansion.

On top of this, EPA is planning to revise the current ozone standard under the Clean Air Act. This standard was lowered during the Bush administration in 2008 - yet apparently not far enough for Obama's EPA. Despite the fact that no new compelling public health studies have emerged to justify a lower standard, the Obama EPA supports ozone levels approaching, in some areas, what's present in the air naturally, absent any human contribution. 

EPA's expected new ozone standard will mar several hundred counties across the country with a scarlet "non-attainment" designation. This means more than just failing to meet the new standard: Such a designation severely constrains the ability of local communities to expand and create jobs.

EPA estimates the new ozone standard could cost the economy as much as $90 billion. Unions for Jobs and the Environment, a coalition of unions that includes, among others, the AFL-CIO, the Teamsters, the IBEW and the United Mine Workers, says the potential new standards "will lead to significant jobs losses across the country."

President Obama speaks grandiosely about restoring the American dream. Yet, all the while, his EPA churns out rules that will crush America's industries and the manufacturing jobs they support. It's time to stop EPA's impending nightmare of shuttered factories and tradesmen with pink slips. And it's time to restore the appropriate balance between environmental protection and economic growth.

Inhofe on Hydraulic Fracturing

National Journal

Why Limit A Safe, Effective Method?

September 23, 2010  

By Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.

Link to Inhofe Blog Post

Hydraulic fracturing, coupled with horizontal drilling, is the key production method which has not only aided in the production of oil and gas from more than one million oil and gas wells over the past nearly 60 years, but it continues to aid the production from thousands and wells every year. In fact, in deep and tight formations, production is dependent on horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracturing, or both. Recent reports point to reserves of natural gas of over 2,000 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). At today's demand, that estimate alone is enough natural gas to meet demand for the next 100 years. Only 1 Tcf of natural gas can heat 15 million homes for a year or fuel 12 million natural gas powered vehicles for a year. What is significant is that much of the increase noted in the report comes from estimates of shale gas found in formations throughout the U.S. However, shale resources are largely only economically and technologically available due to hydraulic fracturing.

Importantly, natural gas production from shale has benefited local and state governments, royalty owners, and overall local economies substantially. For example, production in the Barnett Shale is responsible for over 110,000 jobs, $4.5 billion in royalty payments, and over $10 billion in increased economic activity in north Texas. The Haynesville Shale in Louisiana has created 33,000 jobs, $2.4 billion in business sales, $3.9 billion in salaries, and $3.2 billion in royalty payments. The Fayetteville Shale has drawn business and capital investment in the area of $22 billion, the creation of 11,000 jobs, and estimates of new state revenues of more than $2 billion by 2012. In Oklahoma, exploration for natural gas accounts for 80% of the state's energy production, and one in seven jobs in Oklahoma is directly or indirectly supported by the crude oil and natural gas industry. Oil and gas accounts for 25% of all taxes paid in the state.

The Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and New York reportedly contains 516 Tcf of natural gas which is enough to satisfy U.S. demand for more than 35 years. Pennsylvania State University issued studies in 2009 and May 2010. It reported that in 2009, Marcellus gas producers spent $4.5 billion just to develop gas resources. It estimates that producers will spend $8 billion in 2010 and $10 billion in 2011. The economic activity from this development simply continues to grow. The study estimates that it will generate $1.8 billion in local tax revenues in 2010-11 and employment of more than 88,000 jobs in 2010 and over 111,000 in 2011.

While States have been regulating oil and gas exploration and production for years, liberals in Washington now want the regulation of hydraulic fracturing to take place from Washington. The fact is however, Republicans and Democrats alike support State regulation. Democratic Colorado Governor Bill Ritter has recognized the value of the practice. In the Denver Business Journal, the Governor characterized the bills pending in Congress imposing new federal regulation on hydraulic fracturing as "a new and potentially intrusive regulatory program." My colleague Senator Byron Dorgan has at least on a couple of occasions spoken at length on the Senate floor recognizing hydraulic fracturing as a crucial technique to production in the Bakken Shale.

Keeping regulation in the States is backed up by a number of recent studies. The Department of Energy and Ground Water Protection Council released a report in May 2009 titled, "State Oil and Natural Gas Regulations Designed to Protect Water Resources" where it described state regulations on all oil and gas production to protect against groundwater contamination. This DOE and GWPC report ultimately concluded that federal regulations on fracturing would be "costly, duplicative of state regulations, and ultimately ineffective because such regulations would be too far removed from field operations." Equally interesting, the report also concluded that the "only alternative to fracturing in reservoirs with low permeability such as shale would be to simply have to drill more wells."

These findings mirror EPA's 2004 report of hydraulic fracturing in coal bed methane CBM production. In this report, EPA conducted a review of all 11 major coal basins across the country and of 200 peer-reviewed publications. It reviewed 105 comments in the Federal Register. It requested information from 500 local and county agencies in states where CBM production occurs. It interviewed 50 local and state government agencies, industry representatives, and 40 citizens groups which alleged drinking water contamination from hydraulic fracturing. After completing this 4 year study, EPA concluded that, "the injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into CBM wells poses little or no threat to underground sources of drinking water and does not justify additional study at this time."

Additionally, Penn State's 2009 study commented that proposals to regulate hydraulic fracturing under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act pose yet another serious threat to the development of the Marcellus Shale and other unconventional gas sources. Why? Because it unnecessarily imposes federal regulation on top of regulation the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Quality is already demonstrating it is able to conduct.

America has tremendous natural gas reserves. When the U.S. is approaching 10% unemployment and when we want energy security and independence from foreign energy, why would we want to go out of our way to restrict the means to extract our own resources that has demonstrated effectiveness and safety for 60 years? Hydraulic fracturing is a safe production technique that is thoroughly regulated by the states. We have a 60 year history to prove it. This country cannot afford to limit the production of its domestic energy resources due to unfounded, anecdotal rumors of environmental damage and the usual hysterical claims from extremist environmental organizations looking for their next crusade.

Another Inconvenient Astronaut: General Stafford

by Senator Inhofe

This past weekend, I was pleased to be in Weatherford, Oklahoma, to celebrate the 80th birthday of a true American hero – retired United States Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas Patten Stafford. 

 

As I said in a tribute on the Senate Floor, General Stafford “is a former National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronaut and the first United States general officer to travel into space, being one of only 24 people to fly to the Moon.  A command pilot in both the Air Force and NASA, General Stafford gave a lifetime of service to the nation in space exploration, logging multiple flights into space to further our understanding and capabilities in space exploration.  As one of the pioneers of our country’s space program, General Stafford established protocols, procedures, and even a few records, that are still present in today’s contemporary space programs and operations.  He has been a national treasure and an unsung hero, willingly taking on the challenges associated with our innate fascination with what lay beyond our terrestrial home.”

What many may not know about General Stafford is that he stands as a global warming skeptic. General Stafford tells me he agrees wholeheartedly with NASA Astronaut/Geologist Jack Schmitt who flew on the Apollo 17 mission, who has said, "The ‘global warming scare’ is being used as a political tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes and decision making. It has no place in the Society's activities.”

The rich irony of course, is that Al Gore has frequently compared global warming skeptics to those that deny the moon landing.  As it turns out, those who have been to the moon and back are some of the staunchest critics of such alarmism.

See: Astronaut Jack Schmitt Joins Skeptics & For Gore, a very inconvenient moonwalker.

Climate Bill Outlook Grim - Dems Seek Distance - We Have Lost The Opportunity

Inhofe EPW News Roundup

Bingaman: I Don't See a Comprehensive Bill Going Anywhere in the Next Two Years  - President Barack Obama's dream of passing a big bill to battle global warming is likely dead for the rest of his term, according to a leading Democrat and long time backer of climate legislation.  "I don't see a comprehensive bill going anywhere in the next two years," Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman told the Reuters Washington Summit on Tuesday.  Bingaman's comments are the most frank to date from a Democratic senator on legislation that Obama has said was key to giving the United States a lead role in global efforts to fight climate change.  "I'd be surprised if that kind of a comprehensive climate and energy bill could pass both houses of Congress in the next Congress, since they've been unable to pass in this Congress" with big Democratic majorities, Bingaman said.

NRO: Bennet Flip-Flop on Cap and Trade?  - At the first debate in Grand Junction, Colorado between Sen. Michael Bennet and Ken Buck, Bennet found himself challenged on the subject of "energy independence" by Buck- "Senator, how can you talk about having energy independence and support cap and trade at the same time?" Bennet responded, "I just want to clear up one piece of the record, a few minutes ago Ken said, ‘Well why would you support cap and trade?' I didn't support the cap and trade bill that passed the House. And I do think it's an unproductive conversation to be fighting about cap and trade or carbon tax . . ." ...When Bennet signed a letter to Senate leadership in November 2009, as the Senate considered the House bill and S.1733, the Kerry-Boxer Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, the left-leaning Colorado Independent noted that Bennet appeared to want to have it "both ways" on "cap-and-trade progressive legislation."

NRO: AG Blumenthal: Just What Does He Think of Cap and Trade ?  - Linda McMahon's campaign is harping on cap-and-trade this week. And it's accusing Attorney General Dick Blumenthal of "misspeaking" on the issue. Today it's circulating two videos of Blumenthal responding to voters' questions about his position. In the first, Blumenthal says he's against the program. In the second, he tells a woman to call him for an answer. Yet Blumenthal was one of several attorneys general who signed a letter in 2009 expressing "our strong support for the Senate to expeditiously adopt federal climate legislation."

The Hill: House GOP's ‘Pledge' Vows Opposition to Climate Legislation  - But with the GOP expected to make major gains in the mid-term elections, it underscores the tough climb that any climate change bills would face in the next Congress regardless of which party holds the gavel. The House approved a sweeping cap-and-trade and energy bill, 219-212, last year, but climate legislation collapsed in the Senate this summer, and even a scaled-back version was not brought up for a vote. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson acknowledged Thursday that broad climate legislation is not currently in the cards, and said the Obama administration is weighing next steps. "[W]e have sort of lost the opportunity, at least for right now, on comprehensive legislation," she said in an interview with The Hill.

E&E News: Bennet Seeks Distance From Cap and Trade in Colo. Senate Race  - Colorado's freshman senator is trying to distance himself from cap and trade in the midst of a tough re-election fight. Democrat Michael Bennet -- who is being challenged by tea party-backed Republican Ken Buck -- appeared to walk back his support for the House-passed climate bill at a Sept. 11 debate in Grand Junction, Colo.  "I just want to clear up one piece of the record," Bennet said. "A few minutes ago, Ken said, 'Well, why would you support cap and trade?' I didn't support the cap-and-trade bill that passed the House. In a letter to a reader of the online publication Grist posted last October, Bennet threw his support behind the sweeping House-passed climate and energy bill. "The House of Representatives' passage of H.R. 2454 is a significant step in the right direction," he wrote. "The bill includes the implementation of a market-based cap-and-trade program that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by requiring polluters to trade pollution allowances."

New York Times: Climate Skeptics Sweeping GOP Senate Primaries  - Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe stood on the Senate floor last year to declare 2009 "the year of the skeptic."  Turns out he jumped the gun.  This year, a host of Republican Senate hopefuls are trumpeting their rejection of climate science on the campaign trail. Christine O'Donnell became the latest to enter the spotlight last week when she rode tea party support to knock off Rep. Mike Castle -- one of eight House Republicans who voted for cap-and-trade climate legislation last summer -- in Delaware's open-seat GOP Senate primary.  She joins Nevada's Sharron Angle -- who has dismissed man-made global warming as a "mantra of the left" -- Wisconsin's Ron Johnson -- who blames warming on "sun spots" -- Florida's Marco Rubio, Alaska's Joe Miller and Colorado's Ken Buck as tea party-backed Republican Senate candidates who reject the science connecting human greenhouse gas emissions to climate change.

In the News... WSJ: New Smog Proposals From EPA Draw Fire

The Wall Street Journal

New Smog Proposals From EPA Draw Fire

September 20, 2010

By STEPHEN POWER

EPA to delay revised ozone standards

Link to Article  

A proposed crackdown on smog by the Environmental Protection Agency is fueling resistance from businesses groups concerned about costs, Republicans who say it'll be a drag on the economy-and some heartland Democrats engaged in tough election battles this fall.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has dramatically stepped up the pace and scope of regulatory activity since 2009. She has pushed sweeping rules to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions linked to climate change, challenged coal companies over their mining practices, and questioned the methods energy companies are using to drill for natural gas.

Now Ms. Jackson is proposing to redefine what constitutes unsafe levels of ground-level ozone, a primary ingredient in smog.

Ms. Jackson wants to set the nation's air-quality standard for ozone at between 60 and 70 parts per billion, compared with 75 ppb currently. The EPA says that could save as many as 12,000 lives a year and save the U.S. as much as $100 billion annually in 2020 by reducing spending on health problems associated with excessive ozone, such as asthma and bronchitis.

The EPA's proposal has the support of the American Lung Association and the American Medical Association, and is consistent with the recommendation of a 23-member panel of clean-air experts who advised the agency on the issue after reviewing more than 1,700 studies.

Ozone forms in the atmosphere when emissions of nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds from cars, factories and other sources react in sunlight. Exposure can damage the lungs, making it harder to breathe.

The EPA says a standard of 60 ppb could cost businesses as much as $90 billion annually in 2020. The costs would include new emissions controls that businesses would have to install; higher electricity prices as power plants switched to cleaner-burning, but costlier, fuels; and more-frequent auto inspections.

Leading manufacturers and energy companies-such as Exxon Mobil Corp., Dow Chemical Co., American Electric Power Co., and Southern Co.-say the EPA hasn't proven that the 60 ppb standard would save the number of lives the agency claims. Also, they say the EPA has underestimated the amount of ozone that forms naturally or drifts into the U.S. from abroad, from factories in China, for example.

Many businesses are also upset with Ms. Jackson for reopening what they thought was a settled issue. In 2008, the George W. Bush administration tightened the ozone standard from 84 ppb to its current level of 75. The EPA normally waits at least five years before revising the standards.

A spokesman for Ms. Jackson says the standard set by the Bush administration doesn't sufficiently protect public health and that the administrator "is determined to set a standard that protects all Americans."

Congressional Republicans have attacked the new standard as a threat to economic growth and job creation.

Two of the top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee-Reps. Joe Barton and Michael Burgess, both of Texas-called the proposal "extraordinarily expensive and unworkable."

A group of senators led by Republican George Voinovich of Ohio and Democrat Evan Bayh of Indiana recently (AUG) urged Ms. Jackson in a letter to reconsider the proposal, saying it would "have a significant negative impact on our states' workers and families and will compound the hardship that may are now facing in these difficult economic times."Some Democrats facing difficult election races this November are also raising concerns. West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, the party's candidate for the U.S. Senate seat long held by Robert Byrd, wrote to Ms. Jackson last month and accused the EPA of "adding an unnecessary element of confusion" by proposing to change the standards "prematurely."

Mr. Manchin's Republican opponent, John Raese, lags behind in fundraising, but he has been closing Mr. Manchin's lead in recent polls.

A spokeswoman for Ohio's Democratic Governor, Ted Strickland, says the governor believes the proposal "would cause a tremendous financial and regulatory burden." and "create additional barriers to job creation and industry growth at a time when Ohio is recovering from the global recession."

Mr. Strickland is trailing former Republican Congressman John Kasich in his re-election bid, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Sept. 16.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration itself is showing signs of concern about the planned new rule. Instead of adopting a new standard by late August, as Ms. Jackson initially promised, the EPA recently announced that she wouldn't reach a decision until late October.