Friday, June 22, 2007

INHOFE: Senate Passed Energy Bill Will Increase Costs to Consumers

June 22, 2007


"Senate Passed Energy Bill Will Increase Costs to Consumers"

WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today commented on the Energy Bill’s ( HR 6. ) passage.

“The three principles of a secure energy supply are ensuring energy is stable, diverse and affordable.  Unfortunately, the Democrat bill that passed last night fails to meet these goals,” Senator Inhofe said.

“This energy bill will increase the price of gasoline.  It does nothing for supply and production.  It also imposes new mandates on energy providers which will increase the cost of electricity for all consumers.

“Despite all the recent rhetoric on energy independence, and increasing supplies of fuels, this bill will continue to put already energy starved Americans on a diet for years to come. The Democrats voted against my Gas Price Act, the only amendment that would have lowered gas prices at the pump by decreasing our dependence on foreign refined products. The energy bill’s biggest victims will be lower income Americans who will be hit with higher gas and electricity costs for at least the next decade.  One estimate of the bill’s legacy, with its so-called price gouging provisions and new mandates on energy providers -- has the price of fuel at the pump more than doubling by 2016.

"One of the few bright spots was the passage of my bipartisan amendment to incorporate the 'Federal Buildings Energy Conservation Act' into the bill. This legislation, which I introduced last week, will encourage the use of geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) in Federal buildings.  Geothermal heat pumps are a proven, effective, and efficient technology that can help meet heating and cooling needs at Federal facilities while conserving energy and saving taxpayer dollars," Senator Inhofe said. One of the leading manufactures of GHPs, Climate Master Inc, is located in Oklahoma City and has been focused on enhancing business and home environments around the world for the past fifty years.

"Another bright spot was the passage of my amendments that Congressman Frank Lucas and I proposed to provide transitional assistance for farmers to encourage them to grow bioenergy crops. I am proud that my state of Oklahoma is a leader in developing bioenergy crops to use in cellulosic ethanol production.

“Finally, I was pleased that the Senate voted against including a massive $32 billion tax increase in the energy bill proposed by the Democrat leadership that would have resulted in a decline in domestic production making the US much more reliant on foreign oil and result in a 104% increase in the price of gasoline over the next eight years.  These tired policies will not work – history has taught us that much.”


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June 21, 2007


WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today commented on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal for new ozone standards.

“EPA’s proposal to tighten the ozone standard, if implemented, will impose significant costs on counties and states across the country for too little environmental benefit,” Senator Inhofe said. "Air pollution levels in the United States are at an all-time low, but this proposal would artificially increase the number of counties in nonattainment from 104 counties to 533 counties. In fact, more than 80 percent of monitored areas would be in violation.

The fact is America continues to achieve real progress in reducing air pollution. Over the last 30 years, air quality standards have been set at very low levels and pollution has been cut by more than half.  But more remains to be done. Many areas are still are not complying with the current law. Now is not the time to be imposing more stringent new regulations that will further drive up the cost of energy on American families. We should start enforcing existing air quality standards.

“From my understanding, part of the basis of this proposed tightening relies on a reanalysis by EPA career staff of a single study – in the original study, the authors found no health effect at levels lower than the current standard, but the EPA staff fiddled with the numbers to find one. In fact, the study’s author told Clean Air Science Advisory Committee (CASAC) that his study was not designed to do what EPA was trying to do with it. And some CASAC members strongly disagreed with the justification that was provided for tightening the standard.

“I am proud that Oklahoma has made tremendous progress in cleaning up our air. Today there is not a single county in non-attainment for ozone, and our particulate matter levels are low too. But under EPA’s proposal, if set it at .070 parts per million, 12 to 15 Oklahoma counties would be brought into nonattainment. These counties would face stiff federal penalties, could lose highway dollars, and would become unattractive places to locate new businesses.”

Last September, Senator Inhofe introduced the Clean Air Attainment Enforcement Act, which sought to amend the Clean Air Act to strengthen penalties on major emission sources in the most polluted areas of the country that fail to meet clean air standards by the attainment deadlines under current Clean Air Act standards. Senator Inhofe intends to reintroduce his bill in the following weeks.







Press Release

Link to EPW Committee Staff Report on the Oversight Investigation of the EPA’s Response to the World Trade Center Collapse

(September 2003)



JUNE 20, 2007

 The devastation New York City suffered on September 11, 2001, was unprecedented and horrendous.  As in all Presidentially declared disasters, EPA cooperates with many other federal departments to provide a coordinated response.  This hearing is to examine EPA’s response and future preparedness and to receive testimony on the Test and Clean program EPA is conducting in Lower Manhattan. 

Following September 11th, EPA was highly involved conducting air, water, and dust monitoring in Lower Manhattan for environmental hazards.  EPA vacuumed street debris and disposed of hazardous wastes.  EPA also conducted a voluntary clean up program from 2002 to 2003 that served more 4,100 residents in Lower Manhattan.  Although EPA does not ordinarily administer worker protection regulations, it provided respirators and protective gear for workers at the World Trade Center site.  

EPA has received criticism for its role following September 11th.  The EPA Inspector General released a lengthy report in 2003 alleging many problems with EPA’s response.  I’ll provide two brief examples.  First, the EPA IG report alleged that EPA, OSHA, and the Council on Environmental Quality released misleading information to the public on air monitoring and sampling in press releases.  However, in the same report the IG conceded that EPA used many methods to inform the public including public meetings, fact sheets, its website, and interviews with newspapers, radio, and television, as well as through press releases.  The IG concluded in the same report, “In regard to the monitoring data, we found no evidence that EPA attempted to conceal data results from the public.”  Secondly, although the IG was critical of EPA’s response including its response to indoor environmental contamination, the IG concluded, “EPA’s actions to evaluate, mitigate, and control risks to human health from exposure to indoor air pollutants in the World Trade Center area were consistent with applicable statutes and regulations.”

Ultimately, the EPA IG report was incomplete because the IG did not interview other officials at other federal agencies such as OSHA and CEQ.  Following the release of the 2003 EPA IG report, my staff prepared a report reviewing the IG’s findings and interviewing EPA IG personnel, former acting Administrator Marianne Horinko, CEQ Chairman Jim Connaughton, and OSHA Assistant Administrator John Henshaw.  I request that report appear in the hearing record. 

While the EPA IG was critical of EPA’s response, not all officials were critical of the response to September 11th.  Dr. Thomas Frieden, the New York City Commissioner of Public Health testified at an EPW Clean Air Subcommittee hearing held in New York City in February 2002, “One of the most vivid pictures to emerge is one of unprecedented cooperation between local, state, and federal health, environmental, and occupational agencies.  The teamwork is quite extraordinary.”

I hope this hearing does not focus on the conflicting findings of a four year old IG report.  Instead, I hope this hearing provides legitimate Congressional oversight on activities in which EPA is currently engaged.

In January 2007, EPA opened the public registration for a new Lower Manhattan Test and Clean Program.  This program is designed to test for elevated levels of four contaminants associated with dust from the collapse of the World Trade Center.  FEMA has provided $7 million to EPA for this work.  I understand that members of the expert panel CEQ and EPA convened for this purpose are dissatisfied that a more exacting program could not be developed.  However, I have an August 2006, letter from New York City Health Commissioner Frieden stating, “The environmental investigations and testing conducted in lower Manhattan indicates that potential health impacts from any remaining [World Trade Center] dust are extremely low or non-existent.”  I ask consent that this letter appear in the hearing record.

We have witnesses that I know will shed further light on many of the issues involving the World Trade Center and its aftermath, and I look forward to their testimony.  In conclusion, I would also like to point out that Chairman Connaughton has volunteered to testify although he is the target of litigation involving the World Trade Center.  The complaint against him has been dismissed in the district court, and the appellate court affirmed that decision.  I would request that Senators recognize that there may be questions that Chairman Connaughton may want to answer but may choose to decline because it may not be prudent given the litigation.

I appreciate all the witnesses participation this morning. 





June 19, 2007


Last month on May 1, 2007, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee considered energy legislation sponsored by Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Ranking Member Pete Domenici (R-N.M.).  So-called environmental groups came out publicly opposing the bill and sent a letter to the Energy Committee urging members on the committee to vote against it. Despite their opposition, the bill passed.  Two weeks later, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), incorporated the bill that passed out of Energy Committee into a broader energy package now being considered on the Senate Floor.

As a result, the language that offended these groups remains the same, but the sponsor – from Bingaman to Majority Leader Reid - has changed. With that change, the critics have now gone silent.

The groups that opppsed the bill include the American Farmland Trust, Clean Air Task Force, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, League of Conservation Voters, National Audubon Society, National Environmental Trust, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Union of Concerned Scientists  U.S. PIRG, and The Wilderness Society.

In their May 1, 2007 letter opposing Chairman Bingaman’s mark, they wrote:

“...we urge you to oppose in its current form Chairman Bingaman’s mark (“Chairman’s Mark”) of the energy bill scheduled to be marked up on May 2, 2007 in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. We regret our need to oppose this legislation, but it would dramatically increase biofuels production in the U.S. without also establishing the necessary safeguards to ensure this increase does not cause substantial environmental harm.”

In his article on May 2, 2007  “Enviro Groups Launch Bid To Block Senate Biofuels Bill (subscription required),” Environment & Energy Publishing reporter Alex Kaplun noted the opposition to the Democrat lead bill by these liberal special-interest groups was surprising:

“Major environmental groups yesterday took the unusual step of publicly opposing a high-profile piece of energy legislation sponsored by a prominent Senate Democrat. More than a dozen groups banded together to send a letter to lawmakers urging them to oppose legislation the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to mark up today. While the panel is expected to pull together four separate pieces of legislation into one measure, the groups demanded lawmakers oppose the entire bill over a provision dealing with biofuels.”

Surprisingly – or perhaps not that surprising – once the majority leader’s name was added to the bill, the one-time vocal critics went silent.  If these groups have integrity and act on their claims of speaking for the environment and the public, their opposition should become even more vocal. 

When they opposed Senator Inhofe's Gas PRICE Act amendment, they threatened members if they supported it, the League of Conservation Voters would "score" the vote. 

Where are the threats?  Where are the scored votes?    

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...Steamed About Energy


Roll Call

Steamed About Energy

By Kate Ackley, Roll Call Staff

June 18, 2007

Link to article

Dan Ellis, president of Oklahoma-based ClimateMaster Inc., doesn’t want his little-known industry left out when it comes to energy legislation.

So, Ellis — along with his colleagues in the formerly Washington, D.C.-shy geothermal heat pump sector — has embarked on an intensive lobbying effort in recent weeks to push Congress to include tax incentives and other measures to promote their business in the energy bill.

“I should’ve been there earlier,” Ellis said. “Our industry is not very good at working the Washington side of things. We kind of woke up and said, ‘We’ve gotta go out there. We have, like, an answer that really solves a lot of the problems. We better get out there and start telling our story.’”

Ellis’ geothermal heat pump effort offers a glimpse into how myriad alternative energy industries are trying to find opportunities in the hotly debated Congressional effort to tackle global warming and reduce reliance on foreign fuels. For their part, geothermal pump advocates say they are trying to get their industry the same recognition as solar and wind alternatives.

And perhaps their work is paying off. On Friday, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced a bill that would establish a geothermal heat pump technology acceleration program to encourage the federal government to use the pumps to heat and cool its buildings.

“My home state of Oklahoma has long been an energy leader for our country,” Inhofe said in a statement. “I am proud of Oklahoma companies like ClimateMaster that are developing promising technologies, such as geothermal heat pumps, that could substantially reduce energy demands and pollution from the operation of federal buildings.”

Unlike geothermal power plants, which drill down into the Earth’s core as much as 20 miles and draw on the earth’s heat to create energy, geothermal heat pumps are individual systems that can heat and cool homes or commercial buildings. While gas and propane furnaces, for example, must burn fuel to heat a home, geothermal heat pumps use the Earth’s natural heat, which is collected through a series of fluid-filled, looped pipes installed several feet underground. In the summer, the process works like a refrigerator; instead of cooling the home with cold air, the hot air from the house is sucked out and expelled through the pipes back into the ground.

Jack DiEnna, executive director of the D.C.-based Geothermal Heat Pump National & International Initiative, said geothermal heat pumps help increase U.S. energy independence because they reduce the need for foreign fuel. They also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the use of water, he said.

DiEnna added that he is lobbying on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) energy proposal to get geothermal heat pumps specifically included as renewable energy sources. “What Sen. Reid’s bill addresses is geothermal energy and production, and I want it to include geothermal heat pumps,” he said.

He said Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) have expressed an interest in the heat pump technology and several sources said Inhofe’s stand-alone bill is expected to be incorporated as an amendment to the energy bill, perhaps this week, and could be co-sponsored by Clinton.

The geothermal heat pump industry also is pushing for a bill introduced by Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, that would extend business tax credits to the pump systems.

“Bart believes more businesses would choose this technology if it were more affordable, so his bill expands existing energy tax credits to geothermal heat pumps,” wrote Gordon’s press secretary, Julie Eubank, in an e-mail.

John Kelly, the Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium’s executive director, said his group has focused on Members of Congressional committees with tax-writing authority: the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees.

“We’re supportive of having geothermal heat pumps on a level playing field with the other renewable energies,” Kelly said. “It’s important to have geothermal heat pumps included explicitly so that people understand the tax credits do apply.”

Scott Segal, an energy lobbyist with Bracewell & Giuliani, who represents ClimateMaster, said wind and solar alternatives often overshadow geothermal. “Solar doesn’t work when the sun doesn’t shine, and wind doesn’t work when the wind doesn’t blow, but geothermal heat pumps work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” he said.

It’s not just the pump industry that’s pushing for the measures, either.

Kevin McCray, executive director of the National Ground Water Association, said tax or other incentives for geothermal heat pumps would be a boon to his members, who construct wells and have the technology to dig the bore holes required for the pumps.

“That’s why we’ve been supportive of legislation that would increase the use of that technology,” he said. McCray’s group has been working with lobbyist Cartier Esham of Dutko Worldwide to push the issue on Capitol Hill.

James Bose, executive director of the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association, said the pumps are “by far the No. 1 energy conserving technology we have in this country and around the world,” adding that they probably save more energy than all other energy alternatives combined.

It’s not just the manufacturers who wax poetic about the systems. Technical experts also agree that geothermal heat pumps come with many advantages. “What Dan says is generally highly credible,” said Harvey Sachs, director of the buildings program at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, referring to ClimateMaster’s Ellis. “He’s an advocate, he believes in it. He’s betting his career on it.”

But, Sachs added: “It is not a panacea. There is no technology that is a panacea.” On the downside, for example, it costs about double to install a geothermal heat pump system than a traditional one.

That high initial cost pays for itself in regions with cold winters like New England, Sachs said. But in areas such as Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where temperatures remain more constant throughout the year, it’s harder to justify the cost, he said. “The payback on heating and cooling is not that great.”

Ellis acknowledged the hurdles, particularly those in coming late to the lobbying scene. “Our biggest problem is most people aren’t aware of it,” he said. “We’re an underground technology, pun intended. We got in late, but I’m optimistic that we will somehow prevail.”