Friday, August 6, 2010

SENATE REPORT: President Obama and the Flawed Federal Response to the BP Disaster

Sen. Inhofe yesterday released a report titled, "Failure of Leadership: President Obama and the Flawed Federal Response to the BP Disaster."

The report concludes that "President Obama and Administration officials failed in several instances to remove regulatory and bureaucratic impediments and to ensure that proper and adequate resources were brought to bear in addressing the BP disaster."

The report documents various constitutional and legal authorities available to President Obama and federal agencies under his control - authorities that could have enabled them to respond to the BP disaster as expeditiously as possible. Yet, as the Senate report explains, in many important instances, these authorities were either ignored or fitfully exercised.

Link to Senate Report

Watch Inhofe YouTube Video

Inhofe: Reid Punt on Spill Bill Exposes Empty Political Exercise

On Wednesday, Sen. Inhofe issued the following statement after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's announcement to punt consideration of a Gulf oil spill bill until September.

See Also: Oil-State Rebellion: It wasn't Republicans who killed Reid's energy bill.

"That Majority Leader Reid scrapped plans to consider oil spill legislation this week is not surprising; it merely exposes what we already knew: this was an empty political exercise from the beginning," Sen. Inhofe said.  "Meanwhile, as the Majority Leader dithers about how to exploit an environmental tragedy, thousands of workers in the Gulf are suffering because of President Obama's offshore energy moratorium.  The Republican alternative, of course, would do away with this job-killing nightmare.   Yet now, everyone from fishermen to manufacturers to waiters to rig workers is left wondering whether they'll get their jobs back.  The message those folks got today from Sen. Reid?  Keep wondering."

Watch/Read: EPA to Crack Down on Farm Dust OKC  

EPA to Crack Down on Farm Dust

August 01, 2010

By Jacqueline Sit

Watch: Farmers Call Possible EPA Crack Down on Farm Dust 'Ridiculous'

Link to Article

Comment on the Story on Inhofe Facebook Page

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering a crackdown on farm dust, so senators have signed a letter addressing their concerns on the possible regulations.

The letter dated July 23 to the EPA states, "If approved, would establish the most stringent and unparalleled regulation of dust in our nation's history." It further states, "We respect efforts for a clean and healthy environment, but not at the expense of common sense. These identified levels will be extremely burdensome for farmers and livestock producers to attain. Whether its livestock kicking up dust, soybeans being combined on a dry day in the fall, or driving a car down the gravel road, dust is a naturally occurring event."

Read the letter to EPA signed by 21 senators including Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn 

Many in the Oklahoma farming industry are opposed to the EPA's consideration. One farmer said the possible regulations are ridiculous.

"It's plain common sense, we don't want to do anything detrimental," said farmer Curtis Roberts. "If the dust is detrimental to us, it's going to be to everybody. We're not going to do anything to hurt ourselves or our farm."

Roberts, a fourth generation farmer and rancher in Arcadia, said regulating dust in rural areas will hurt farmers' harvest, cultivation and livelihood.

"Anytime you work ground, you're going to have dust. I don't know how they'll regulate it," Roberts said. "The regulations are going to put us down and keep us from doing things we need to be doing because of the EPA."

Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Mike Spradling said the rules could be detrimental to farmers across the Sooner State.

"We as an organization do not feel dust is a pollutant," Spradling said. "It would almost be impossible to comply with what's being addressed now from the EPA as in agriculture. We're doing everything we possibly can."

"It's just common sense, we don't like dust in the morning but it's something we got to live with," Roberts said.

Inhofe Hearing Statement: Oversight Hearing on the Use of Oil Dispersants in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Sen. Inhofe on Wednesday delivered the following opening statement at a Full Committee and Subcommittee on Oversight joint hearing entitled, "Oversight Hearing on the Use of Oil Dispersants in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.”

Thank you, Madam Chair, for scheduling today's important hearing to examine the use and impacts of oil dispersants to mitigate the BP oil spill.  Following the tragic Exxon Valdez oil spill, the National Contingency Plan (NCP) was updated to address new issues that might arise in the event of an oil spill of national significance.   Among other things, the NCP was amended to require a pre-approved list of dispersants deemed safe for emergency use by the Environmental Protection Agency.  By creating a pre-approved list, oil spill responders have an effective tool to fight the devastating effects of an oil spill quickly and without bureaucratic delay. 

Let me be clear: nobody is advocating for the use of dispersants unless they are absolutely necessary, but with the BP disaster, they appear to be the lesser of two evils.  I am disappointed that this important tool-which was first approved for use by EPA and then-Administrator Carol Browner in 1994-was implemented in fits and starts.  EPA first approved, then stopped, then approved again the use of dispersants.  I am concerned that EPA's back and forth-which runs counter to having a list approved prior to an emergency-may have exacerbated the damages caused by the BP spill. 

The Administration's actions are somewhat baffling considering top officials have clearly stated that dispersants are safe and effective.  Carol Browner, now President Obama's Energy and Climate Change Czar, has been quoted comparing dispersants to dish soap and just last week said, "We have been using dispersant. We do monitor, the EPA monitors regularly. Right now they're not seeing anything of concern. NOAA is also monitoring. They're not seeing anything of concern and right now the monitoring is telling us that everything is OK, but we will continue to monitor."  EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said, "We know that dispersants are less toxic than oil," and that they "break down over a period of weeks, rather than remaining for several years as untreated oil might."  In a report last Tuesday, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco said, "The light crude oil is biodegrading quickly...we know that a significant amount of the oil has dispersed and been biodegraded by naturally occurring bacteria."

The current dispersant being used, Corexit 9500, was formulated following the Exxon Valdez spill and approved by EPA for use in 1994.  This dispersant is currently approved for use in 28 countries, and 30 groups have access to samples as well as complete access to its ingredients and mixtures.  These groups include 16 academic institutions, multiple federal agencies, including numerous divisions and regions of EPA, and 5 departments within the state government of Louisiana.   Legislation covering dispersants has now been introduced in the Senate and passed in the House.  The House-passed language institutes a 2-year moratorium on dispersants and requires full public disclosure of ingredients.  This would greatly limit our ability to respond to any potential future spills and could drastically diminish our domestic manufacture and supply of dispersants in the future.  

Clearly there are uncertainties due to the volume and method of use of dispersants in this current response effort.  But we must be measured in how we address these uncertainties, because we could ultimately do more harm than good.  I applaud Senator Lautenberg's efforts in drafting a more reasoned alternative to the House bill.  At this point, based on the extensive federal research on dispersants initiated after the BP spill, I'm not sure if Senator Lautenberg's legislation is needed.  I also have some additional concerns with aspects of the bill but will continue to study this issue, and I commit today to work with Sen. Lautenberg on bipartisan legislation if there's a need for it.  Thank you. 

Inhofe Hearing Statement: State of Research on Potential Environmental Health Factors with Autism and Related Neurodevelopment Disorders

This week, Sen. Inhofe released the following statement at a Subcommittee on Children's Health hearing entitled, "State of Research on Potential Environmental Health Factors with Autism and Related Neurodevelopment Disorders."

As a father and grandfather, protecting the health of children, born and unborn, is a personal priority for me.  I would like to thank Senator Klobuchar for scheduling this important hearing to discuss new developments in autism and other neuro-development disorders. 

Autism and related developmental disorders affect approximately 1 in 110 births and are growing at an alarming rate of 10 to 17 percent per year.  At this rate, there are estimates that the prevalence of autism could reach 4 million Americans in the next decade.  Autism and similar disorders have no ethnic, racial, or social boundaries and can affect any family or child indiscriminately.  Autism has increasingly been identified as a mostly complex genetic disorder, but some environmental factors may also be linked to its causes. 

I have always championed the use of the best available science to properly assess the risks these devastating disorders have on children and families. Due to the increasing rates of Autism in children, the committee must ensure that the best available scientific research is conducted and appropriate funding is directed towards these causes.

Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences have dedicated resources to research the environmental health factors associated with autism, and I look forward to hearing from the witnesses on the status of these ongoing studies.  I invite the agencies and experts to identify areas where there may be inefficiencies or lack of sufficient information so we can address these issues and make certain that proper resources are being dedicated to the most appropriate areas of study.

The rise in autism is a very serious problem facing our nation's children and families, and I will stay committed to discovering the causes and finding treatments.  I look forward to hearing the results of the agencies' findings, and how the federal government can enhance and improve its research efforts. 

In the News... Oklahoman Op-Ed: Arguments Against Hydraulic Fracturing Unfounded

The Oklahoman

Op-Ed: Arguments against hydraulic fracturing unfounded


August 6, 2010

Link to Op-Ed 

Many people are aware of the debate surrounding hydraulic fracturing and the accompanying claims of pending environmental disaster from those who want it stopped or placed under strict federal regulation.

In more than 20 years as a corporation commissioner, I've never seen anything that approaches this current unfounded and growing national hysteria.

Simply put, hydraulic fracturing (HF) is an essential oil and gas production technique used for reservoir stimulation. Ironically, given the opposition in the name of the environment, HF is also used for environmentally friendly applications such as geologic storage of carbon, developing water wells and "green" geothermal energy and even cleaning up Superfund sites.

Opponents portray hydraulic fracturing as some horrible practice that endangers our water supplies, polluting them with cancer-causing chemicals.

In fact, 99 percent of the materials injected are water and sand.

Other HF ingredients are no stronger than chemicals found around the house.

Furthermore, the fracturing process takes place thousands of feet below treatable (meaning potentially drinkable) groundwater, with layers of rock in between.

We've used HF for some 60 years in Oklahoma, and we have no confirmed cases where it is responsible for drinking water contamination - nor do any of the other natural gas-producing states.

Thanks to HF we have the ability to extract hydrocarbons from shale formations, and America now has a 100-year supply of natural gas, the cleanest burning of all fossil fuels.

This supply can and must play a key role in reducing our dependence on foreign energy, from transportation fuels to electric generation. As we expand our wind and solar power capacity, natural gas-fired electric generation is the only practical way of providing necessary supplementary power when needed.

Much of the debate is being orchestrated by those who seek to remove all fossil fuels from the American economy or those who want to make natural gas less competitive with other energy sources. However, don't be fooled.

Even though the rhetoric focuses on environmental issues, this is a fight about money. America is making multibillion-dollar infrastructure decisions about powering our economy. Without hydraulic fracturing, Oklahoma's oil and natural gas production would plummet, as would our economy. Our state is the nation's third-largest producer of natural gas and its fifth-largest land-based oil producer.

Maintaining regulation of oil and gas at the state level is essential. Doing the job properly requires knowledge of the unique geology and hydrology of formations. At the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, our oil and gas field inspectors and technical staff live, work and raise their families here.

We are committed to protecting our state resources and do not believe in a "one-size-fits-all" federal approach as advocated by some.

Many know at least part of the story of Chicken Little, who proclaimed, "The sky is falling!" Many don't know how the story ends. It ends badly for those not willing to find out the facts for themselves.

Anthony is chairman of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.