Friday, March 4, 2011

The Week Ahead...

On Wednesday, March 9 at 2:30 pm, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing entitled, "Hearing on the President's Proposed FHWA Budget for FY 2012" in Room 406 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. 

Senator Inhofe looks forward to welcoming Ray LaHood, Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation to testify before the committee. 

All EPW hearings are available to watch online and the written testimony for each witness will be posted a few minutes before the hearings start at

Inhofe Introduces Legislation to Stop Obamas Backdoor Energy Tax

On March 3, Senator Inhofe introduced S. 482, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011. 

Link to S. 482, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011

Link to Fact Sheet on the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011

The bill stops the Obama EPA's back-door cap-and-trade regulations from taking effect, and thereby: 

 - Protects jobs in America's manufacturing sector; 

 - Protects consumers from higher energy costs; 

 - Puts Congress in charge of the nation's climate change policies; and 

 - Ensures that the public health provisions of the Clean Air Act are preserved. 

No More Back-Door Energy Taxes

"As the price of gasoline nears $4 a gallon, consumers can't afford to pay for the Obama EPA's back-door cap-and-trade regulations, which will inevitably mean higher prices for gasoline and electricity," Sen. Inhofe said.  "The Energy Tax Prevention Act protects consumers and their budgets." 

No Two-Year Delay

"The Energy Tax Prevention Act stops cap-and-trade regulations from taking effect-once and for all," Inhofe continued.  "A two-year delay won't help our economy grow or help those searching for work.  It does nothing to alleviate the uncertainty plaguing businesses all across America.  Simply put, EPA's cap-and-trade regime is bad policy that must be stopped."

Takes Power Away from Unelected Bureaucrats

"The Energy Tax Prevention Act also imposes accountability.  It takes power away from unelected bureaucrats and puts it where it belongs: in Congress, where the people can and should decide the nation's climate change policy."

Stops Distortion of Nation's Clean Air Law

The Energy Tax Prevention Act leaves all of the essential provisions of the Clean Air Act intact, ensuring that Americans will be protected from pollution that has direct public health impacts.  It also prevents EPA from twisting the Clean Air Act into a bureaucratic obstacle to growth and expansion.  "I recognize the tremendous strides businesses and communities have made in reducing air pollution, and I stand ready to modernize the Clean Air Act to make even greater strides in improving public health.  But imposing energy taxes through EPA's cap-and-trade regulations and blocking expansion won't make Americans healthier-it will only mean fewer jobs, a higher cost of living, and less growth and innovation."

Along with 6 Republican and 3 Democratic cosponsors (Rep. Dan Boren, Okla., Rep. Nick Rahall, W. Va., and Rep. Collin Peterson, Minn.), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and House Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) today also introduced the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 in the House. 

Quotes from cosponsors:

Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.): "I strongly support Senator Inhofe's efforts to block some of this Administration's most overreaching Washington climate change rules.  I look forward to working with him on this, and on addressing the other job crushing climate change rules across all agencies in the near future." 

Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho): "This act presents an opportunity for Congress to reassert its Constitutional responsibility to address the environmental and energy concerns of the 21st Century.  The Environmental Protections Agency's (EPA) top-down, regulatory approach is not the answer.  The best way to convey that message is to ensure that this legislation makes its way to the President's desk.  If the President is truly committed to identifying and overturning burdensome, unnecessary regulations, this is where he should start."

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.):  "America wants a low-cost clean-energy policy that keeps and grows jobs here, not a comprehensive, high-cost clean-energy policy that sends jobs overseas looking for cheap electricity, which Congress already rejected and a group of unelected Washington bureaucrats now seeks to impose."

Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.): "Congress has turned back attempts to tax energy through a cap-and-tax scheme. Now EPA is trying to impose misguided regulations on its own. Manufacturers, families and small businesses cannot continue to operate under the uncertainty of energy costs created by this administration. This legislation will protect jobs and ensure that EPA refrains from burdensome rules that double the energy bills of all Americans"

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska): "The EPA has created a very real burden through its greenhouse gas regulations that's holding back investment and job creation. Sen. Inhofe and Rep. Upton have written a bill - in a collaborative and transparent way - that permanently fixes this problem and it should be sent to the President without delay."

Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.): "Indiana continues to suffer from 9.5% unemployment, higher than the national average. The last thing we need at this critical stage for the economy, is to have a bunch of big government federal regulators coming with rules that cost even more jobs. At a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing a year ago, I warned the EPA, but they have taken no heed of congressional oversight."

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah):  "According to NOAA's Satellite and Information Center, since 1994 Utah has cooled at the rate of almost half-a-degree Fahrenheit per decade.  I don't know if cooling is a bad or good thing, but the last place I'd go for an answer to that question is the EPA or the UN, two of the most power-grabbing agenda-driven organizations on the planet.

Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.): "These cap and tax regulations bypassing the Congress are misguided at best. The consumer will pay for them in the form of increased energy costs at a time when world events are already driving up prices. These policies will be especially hard on America's farmers and ranchers, while little to no reduction in carbon emissions is actually achieved. This bill will protect our struggling economy from taxes that will hit every American."

Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.): "Congress is the appropriate branch of the federal government to debate and design a climate change policy. I do not appreciate the implied threat that if Congress does not go along with the EPA, the agency will impose costly regulations. This bill is about preserving the traditional and constitutional role of Congress as elected representatives of the citizens of this country to make necessary and proper laws for our nation."

Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas): "This measure is critical to ending the Obama Administration's energy takeover as they continue to force their command and control agenda on states through backdoor EPA regulations, which are crippling businesses and economic development throughout the nation.  The EPA has enacted rules on greenhouse gases which the Congress never intended.  Unfortunately, Texas is no stranger to this administrative overreach by the EPA which has taken over critical portions of our state's emissions permitting program.  I hope that the Senate will quickly take up this bill and pass it to release the EPA's stranglehold on Texas and our nation's economy."

Senator John Thune (R-S.D.): "Our national unemployment rate continues to hover at nine percent and American families struggle to make ends meet, yet unelected bureaucrats at the EPA continue to craft costly backdoor energy taxes that will hit each and every person's checkbook even more. These burdensome cap-and-trade rules increase costs for consumers and energy producers across South Dakota, and stifle job creation and investment. The bipartisan Energy Tax Prevention Act will stop unelected bureaucrats' unilateral attempt to legislate climate rules through regulation."

Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.): "The last thing America's families and businesses need during this recession is a back door regulatory effort by the Administration to implement cap and trade. This legislation ensures that the Administration will not be able to regulate what it could not legislate, while also ensuring that they will not add new burdensome, job-killing energy taxes. I fully support this effort, and I will do all that I can to repeal existing onerous regulations and to prevent the Administration from imposing new taxes through more regulations."

Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.): "The Obama Administration's backdoor climate regulations will undercut efforts to create jobs and further erode America's global competitiveness - especially in the agriculture and energy sectors. The last thing Americans need is a national energy tax that would kill more jobs. The Clean Air Act was never intended to regulate greenhouse gases, and the EPA must be stopped from making decisions that circumvent Congress. We should do everything we can to create jobs and grow our economy - that includes stopping unelected bureaucrats from raising energy costs and using regulatory red tape to raise taxes and increase government intrusion into the lives of Americans." 

Click Here to Learn More

In the News...House and Senate Dems Join GOP Fight To Block EPA Climate Rules

Washington Post: 4 Dems join GOP fight to block EPA climate rules - Four Democrats are joining a Republican effort to block the Environmental Protection Agency from reducing heat-trapping pollution blamed for global warming. Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia, Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia will sponsor a bill supported by 43 Senate and seven House Republicans that would bar the EPA from using federal law to control greenhouse gases from power plants, refineries and other industrial facilities. The measure is the latest to be introduced in the Republican-controlled House, where at least a half-dozen bills target the EPA and its efforts to control air and water pollution. Several bills blocking or delaying agency rules have also been filed in the Senate, where their fate is far less certain […]The lead authors of the bill are House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky and Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma. Inhofe disputes the widespread scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels is causing Earth's temperature to rise.


The Hill: Republicans Ramp up Push to Block EPA Climate Regulations   - Republicans on Thursday released a series of letters from industry groups that praise the bill, including from the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Industrial Energy Consumers of America. The lawmakers floated a draft version in February, and have been working behind the scenes for weeks to get Democrats to sign on. Forty-three Senate Republicans are initially sponsoring the bill. They include very conservative members of the GOP conference like Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), but also Sens. Dick Lugar (Ind.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.). Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, signed on as well. Murkowski is also the ranking Republican on the panel of the Appropriations Committee that controls EPA’s budget.


WKRG: Republicans Launch Bill to Axe EPA Carbon Rules  - Some Democrats may find it hard to vote against a bill that aims to stop regulations some businesses say will shut factories and hurt jobs. Senator Joe Manchin from coal-rich West Virginia, who ran a television campaign ad last year in which he shot a copy of a climate bill with a rifle, signed on to the Senate bill.  Democrats Collin Peterson and Dan Boren signed onto the House bill.


National Journal: Democrats Sign onto Bill Blocking Greenhouse Gas Rules  - Freshman Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a moderate Democrat who has been a vocal critic of the EPA since his campaign last year, joined Reps. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Dan Boren, D-Okla., late on Thursday in signing on to co-sponsor the legislation introduced in the House and Senate to block EPA’s climate change rules. “The EPA has gone unchecked for far too long," Boren said in a statement on Thursday. "Administrator [Lisa] Jackson has tried to legislate rather than take direction from Congress that is elected by the people. I am proud to join my fellow colleagues from Oklahoma in signing on to legislation that will allow the people to have a voice in their government." Rahall spokesman Blake Androff confirmed Thursday morning that the West Virginia Democrat will be an "original co-sponsor" of the legislation. “I am dead-set against the EPA’s plowing ahead on its own with new regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions,” Rahall said in a statement. “The Congress -- the place where the people’s will reigns -- is the appropriate body to design a program with such sweeping ramifications,” he added, echoing the words of Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., the Republican leading the charge for the bill in the Senate.


Politico: Dem to co-sponsor bill blocking EPA  - House Republicans can claim "bipartisanship" in their bid to handcuff the EPA's climate change rules. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) told POLITICO on Wednesday that he will be co-sponsoring the legislation from House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) that puts a freeze on EPA's regulatory agenda for major industrial polluters like power plants and petroleum refiners. "The EPA needs to be reined in," said Peterson, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee and a frequent critic of the agency. Upton and Whitfield, the chairman of the Energy and Power Subcommittee, have been offering small changes to their bill in their courtship of moderate and conservative Democrats like Peterson. Support from House Democrats, they hope, will put pressure on Senate Democrats and the Obama White House to accept their legislation. "We want to get as many as we can, and we have reason to believe we'll have a number of Democrats," Whitfield told reporters […] Across the Capitol, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) is planning to release a companion version of the EPA legislation Thursday with support from a large bloc of the Republican Conference and perhaps even a small number of Democrats. Energy and Natural Resources Committee ranking member Lisa Murkowski said the Inhofe bill circulated Wednesday during a GOP luncheon and has won over her signature. "The temperature in Alaska is so high right now directed against the EPA because everything it seems like we're trying to take on, we get shut down by the EPA," Murkowski said. "It's just a big, big issue." Among Democrats, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said he would "absolutely" consider co-sponsoring the proposal but noted that he hadn't seen a final version yet. Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu said she wouldn't be among the original co-sponsors but would "strongly consider" voting for it if the measure reached the floor.

VIDEO: Argument Over 1970s Global Cooling Consensus Heats Up During Hearing

 Link to Video

The Daily Caller

Senators spar during hearing over alleged 1970s global cooling consensus

By Amanda Carey


Link to Article

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee members sparred Wednesday over whether there existed a consensus in the 1970s that the earth was cooling.

During the hearing, Republican Sens. James Inhofe of Oklahoma and John Barrasso of Wyoming questioned the supposed need to enact policies to combat global warming by pointing to similar predictions in the 1970s of a global cooling phenomenon.

The exchange started with Barrasso addressing the committee's witness, Environmental Protection Agency Director Lisa Jackson.

"Forty years ago, the same scientists that are predicting the end of the world now from global warming were predicting the end of the world from global cooling," said Barrasso. "So if we had committed the same amount of taxpayer resources and government manpower that the administration now wants us to commit to prevent global warming - if we'd done that prevent global cooling, we wouldn't be the most prosperous nation on earth."

He continued: "The fact is that the same doomsday predictions we were getting 40 years is the exact same thing this agency and this administration today. Only now...the problem is man-made global warming."

Shortly thereafter, Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado responded to Barrasso by citing an article which he said proved the "supposed global cooling consensus among scientists in the 1970s is a myth."

"Would you put that in the record then," committee chair Sen. Barbara Boxer of California eagerly interrupted.

Still later, Inhofe got into the science debate by citing a 1971 study by Dr. John Holdren, who just so happens to be President Obama's advisor on science technology. In that study Holdren wrote, "The effects of a new ice age on agriculture and the supportability of large human populations scarcely need elaboration here." Holdren went on to write that the effects could "generate a tidal wave of proportions unprecedented in recorded history."

A visibly satisfied Inhofe then turned to Boxer, and stated, "So even the president's people are agreed with me, Madam Chairwoman!"


Hot Air

Video: Barrasso, Inhofe tag-team Boxer on 1970s "New Ice Age" Exposer of Holdren

By Ed Morrissey

March 3, 2011

Link to Article

I'm old enough to remember when scientists issued alarms over a coming Ice Age that would wipe out life on Earth on a massive scale. Senator John Barrasso's memory holds up pretty well, too, and he reminded everyone of the consensus in the 1970s that the climate had begun to cool so significantly that, er, the world needed massive government interventions in energy production and consumption to survive it. Barrasso quotes from Newsweek and Time articles of the period. Senator Tom Udall attempts to ride to EPW Chair Barbara Boxer's rescue by introducing an article that claims the global-cooling consensus of the 1970s was a "myth," and Boxer urges Udall to add it to the record. But that's just the set-up Jim Inhofe needed to complete this two-man demolition of "consensus" and to expose the main White House adviser on climate change as a chronic crank, as the Daily Caller reports [...] I haven't seen that kind of a setup and payoff since Bob Hope and Bing Crosby made movies with Dorothy Lamour. That was during the period when American industry and economic expansion held the national consensus rather than Chicken Little hypotheses with chronically faulty models and contradictory results. Man, I guess I am getting old.

Inhofe Hearing Statement: Environmental Protection Agency Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Hearing

On March 2, Seantor Inhofe delivered the following statement at a Full Committee hearing entitled, "Environmental Protection Agency Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Hearing":

Administrator Jackson, it is always good to see you.  I suspect these are tough times at EPA, for a variety of reasons.  The most obvious is the nation's massive deficits and debt.  If we want to eliminate them, federal agencies must make meaningful fiscal sacrifices-and EPA is no exception. 

But Administrator Jackson-and I say this with all due respect-instead of sacrifice, I'm afraid EPA's budget submission is yet another fiscal bait and switch. 

We've seen this before, going back to the Bush Administration: EPA proposes significant cuts that appear fiscally responsible-but in truth they are cuts EPA knows Congress will readily restore. 

By my calculations, 83% of EPA's proposed cuts come from three water programs with strong bipartisan support in Congress, including $947 million from State Revolving Funds (SRF).  These cuts total $1.1 billion.  EPA's overall cuts for FY 2012 amount to $1.3 billion.  So it's not hard to see the math here.

You can bet these cuts will be restored, because many of my colleagues believe these are worthwhile programs.  For example, the SRF supports our nation's infrastructure-an area where the federal government has a crucial role to play. 

Administrator, I call on you to help us find cuts that are more responsible-and more politically realistic.  I can think of many programs that don't deserve funding.  Item number one-and this should be no surprise-is EPA's greenhouse gas (GHG) regulatory regime.  

I must say, however, that, due to existing GHG regulations, this is more complicated than it seems.  The problem is that EPA, states, and regulated entities have legal obligations stemming from existing GHG regulations.  We have to ensure, therefore, that our cuts don't have unintended consequences. 

The best way to eliminate EPA's carbon regime is through an authorization bill.  That's why I released the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 with Rep. Fred Upton.  This bill puts Congress in charge of deciding our nation's climate change policy, not EPA bureaucrats.  And it will keep our focus on reducing real pollution, ensure people have jobs, and allow our economy to grow. 

If we want to make strides in improving public health, we won't do it by regulating carbon dioxide.  It's not a pollutant-despite what EPA says.  When it comes to real pollution, such as sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, EPA's budget falls short.  For example, it eliminates funding for the Diesel Emission Reduction Act, or DERA.  This is a program with bipartisan support-from me, Chairman Boxer, Sen. Carper, and others-that we passed last year.  It would help reduce real pollutants, but EPA has decided to spend elsewhere.  This is irresponsible and, if followed, bad for public health.

Administrator, I've said this before: though we disagree, I appreciate your leadership at the agency.  You have tough decisions ahead on ozone, on PM dust, on Boiler MACT, on Utility MACT, on hydraulic fracturing, and on greenhouse gases.  We will likely disagree on what you decide.  But you have always been honest and straightforward with me.  I look forward to continuing our relationship through the 112th Congress. 

Upton, Inhofe: EPA Should Void GHG Settlement Agreements

On March 2, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Ranking Member James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) sent the following letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson criticizing the agency's proposed settlement agreements requiring costly regulations on new, modified, and existing power plants and refineries.  In the letter, Upton and Inhofe note that the agreements were reached with almost no public input, which violates the President's recent Executive Order requiring openness and transparency in the regulatory process. They also demand that EPA reject the agreements to protect consumers from paying higher prices for gasoline and electricity.  

Link to Letter  

Full text of letter:

March 2, 2011

The Honorable Lisa Jackson


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20460

Dear Administrator Jackson:

On January 18, President Obama issued an executive order that called for, among other things, a regulatory process based on "public participation and an open exchange of ideas."  Further, the order states that regulations should be informed by "the open exchange of information and perspectives among State, local, and tribal officials, experts in relevant disciplines, affected stakeholders in the private sector, and the public as a whole." 

We believe EPA has violated the letter and spirit of the President's executive order. EPA's proposed settlement agreements requiring the issuance of New Source Performance Standards for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new, modified, and existing power plants and refineries are a case in point. 

The settlement agreements were concocted in secret, as the businesses that would have to comply with them, and the consumers that would have to pay their ultimate costs, were not consulted.  That the public had a mere 30 days to comment on what EPA wrought-after the fact-provides no consolation: EPA issued a press release before the comment period even commenced announcing that it would move forward "on GHG standards for fossil fuel power plants and petroleum refineries," and that the agreements are "a clear path forward for these sectors and is part of EPA's common-sense approach to addressing GHGs from the largest industrial pollution sources."  These statements prejudge the outcome of the rulemaking, conveying a clear bias toward finalizing the agreements and issuing new regulations. 

EPA has in effect legally committed itself to significant regulations without full public airing of the costs and benefits of GHG regulations under the NSPS program.  EPA was not forced into this circumstance: EPA's actions were entirely discretionary; no court ordered them.  One can only speculate as to what prompted its course of action.  It is clear, however, that this process and the regulations it requires cannot be squared with the President's executive order. 

The most significant element of the settlement agreements is that EPA proposes to exercise authority under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to promulgate guidelines under which states will be required to adopt GHG standards for existing power plants and refineries.  EPA has rarely used this authority in the past, and has never done so for power plant emissions. 

This poses serious administrative challenges, and EPA should be readily aware of the negative consequences that can arise from entering into an ill-conceived consent decree given the recent experience of the "Boiler MACT" rule.  In that case, the consent decree lacked sufficient time to consider public comments and, as a result, EPA was forced to simultaneously issue a regulation it conceded was flawed and announce proceedings to reconsider it.  The same could very well occur in this case.

Stated plainly, EPA should seek to void the NSPS settlement agreements.  The pending regulations of refineries could result in, among other harmful effects, higher gasoline and diesel prices for drivers, truckers, and farmers, while consumers could see higher electricity prices with new GHG regulations on power plants.  As the price of gasoline reaches $4 a gallon, EPA should not impose higher costs and regulatory burdens on consumers as they struggle with 9 percent unemployment and an economy struggling out of recession. 

In the event EPA stays the course, Congress has several options at its disposal to nullify the agreements, including, but not limited to, prohibiting the expenditure of funds to carry them out.  Such steps would be appropriate given the gravity of the settlement agreements and how they were reached.  In the coming days, we will be consulting with our colleagues on this matter.  If EPA decides to move down the wrong path, we will take whatever actions are necessary to protect consumers and the economy.  

We appreciate your attention to this letter.


James M. Inhofe

Ranking Member, Senate Committe on Environment and Public Works                                             

Fred Upton

Chairman, House Energy and Commerce Committee

In the News...AP: McConnell, Two Other Senators Push To Speed Up Coal Mine Permits

Associated Press 

McConnell, Two Other Senators Push To Speed Up Coal Mine Permits

March 3, 2011

Link to Article 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Alleging that the Obama administration is engaged in a "backdoor means of shutting down coal mines," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell joined two other Washington lawmakers on Thursday in introducing legislation that would require the Environmental Protection Agency to move faster in granting federal permits needed to open coal mines.

McConnell and Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma jointly introduced the Mining Jobs Protection Act.

They weren't the only Republicans taking aim at the Obama administration's EPA this week.

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, the Kentucky Republican who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, chided the EPA for "running roughshod" over the nation's small businesses, including Appalachian coal companies.

"In fact, I believe EPA is headed in the wrong direction with an aggressive and overzealous regulatory agenda that far exceeds the authority it's been granted," Rogers said in a statement Thursday.

And in the Kentucky capital this week, state lawmakers thumbed their noses at the agency by passing an apparently unenforceable resolution declaring the Bluegrass State a "sanctuary" from federal environmental rules. The resolution was intended to send a message to EPA that state lawmakers are frustrated with "over-regulation" that they believe is costing jobs.

"Appalachian families should not have to choose between clean water and a healthy economy - they deserve both," the EPA said in a statement late Thursday. "EPA has set commonsense guidelines that allow companies to mine coal while avoiding permanent and irreversible damage to water quality."

In the statement, the EPA acknowledged that "coal and coal mining are part of our nation's energy future."

McConnell's bill would give the EPA up to 60 days to accept or reject permit applications so that mining companies aren't left waiting indefinitely to learn whether they'll be allowed to open new operations or to expand existing ones.

He said the EPA, under the Obama administration, has essentially used the permitting process of the federal Clean Water Act against the mining industry. Paul said the EPA's "war on coal" is costing jobs in Kentucky.

Inhofe is the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which will consider the bill.

"The EPA has turned the permitting process into a backdoor means of shutting down coal mines by sitting on permits indefinitely, thus removing any regulatory certainty," McConnell said in a Senate floor speech Thursday. "What they're doing is outside the scope of their authority and the law and represents a fundamental departure from the permitting process as originally envisioned by Congress."

Austin Hall, an organizer for the environmental group Appalachian Voices, objected Thursday to a shortened timeframe for the EPA to evaluate permit applications.

"The EPA is taking the proper and needed steps to scientifically evaluate these permits and to seriously take into consideration the impacts that mines in Appalachia will have on adjacent communities, to ensure the water quality is protected, to ensure that livelihoods are protected and to ensure that property is protected," he said.

McConnell, R-Ky., charged that industries other than coal are at risk, too.

"The out-of-control EPA is already costing the people of Kentucky jobs and their war on coal could cost us even more," Paul, a Republican, said in a statement.

Paul declared that he and McConnell "are working to end this abuse by the EPA, and stop the Obama administration from killing jobs in Kentucky and other coal-producing states."

Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett praised the lawmakers for taking on an EPA that he accused of destabilizing the mining industry.

"The serious concern here is that appointed bureaucrats are holding pending permits to mine coal hostage with no timeline for approval, creating greater uncertainty, and keeping Kentuckians from going to work," Bissett said, echoing the senators' remarks.

Hall of Appalachian Votes said the McConnell-Paul-Imhofe proposal goes even farther than a similar measure, dubbed the EPA Fair Play Act, filed last month by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Manchin argued in filing his bill that the EPA had overstepped its authority in vetoing a Clean Water Act permit that the Army Corps of Engineers had issued for West Virginia's largest mountaintop removal mine, Arch Coal's Spruce No. 1 mine. Manchin's bill, similar to one filed by West Virginia's U.S. House delegation, would prohibit vetoes of properly vetted permits.

Environmentalists oppose both measures.

Tulsa World Editorial: Inhofe's Efforts Welcome on WRDA

Tulsa World

Editorial: Inhofe's Earmark Efforts Unwavering, Welcome

Tulsa World's Editorial Writers 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Link to Editorial 

One thing you can say about U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe: He doesn't back down, even when his objective is unpopular.

The Oklahoma Republican has teamed up with a California Democrat to request possible projects in the next major water resources bill about to be drafted. Sen. Barbara Boxer is chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Inhofe, who used to be chairman, is now the committee's ranking Republican.

The committee has enormous power in determining what major infrastructure projects receive federal funding. But that power is in question now, thanks to anti-earmark fever sweeping through the nation's Capitol. Even President Barack Obama has joined in, promising to veto any bill containing earmarks.

The earmarks in question have received authorization for funding (but not necessarily the funding) through the committee process. They've become a symbol of government overspending, though they account for only 1.5 percent of discretionary spending.

Inhofe insists that the money directed to earmarks would be spent anyway, but by nameless, faceless bureaucrats who aren't answerable to any local constituency.

We agree with Inhofe's stance and hope he is successful in obtaining more funding for Oklahoma water projects. The simple truth is that if it weren't for the efforts of leaders like Inhofe and the others who are willing to advance earmarks, less populous states like Oklahoma would never get needed help on these fronts.

Case in point: Inhofe managed in 2007 to obtain authorization for up to $50 million for ecosystem restoration, recreation and flood damage reduction components of the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan. It's arguable that those are federal purposes, and there's little likelihood such objectives could be realized using state or local funding.

It's true that some earmark projects should never have been approved. But the ones being pushed by Inhofe and other members of Oklahoma's congressional delegation have been studied extensively and found at all levels to be important, worthwhile projects.

Oklahoma's other senator, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, staunchly opposes earmarks and has pushed measures to block them.

Our question to Coburn and other foes of earmarks: If you feel so strongly about government spending, why not target the spending behemoths that really wreck the federal budget, like defense spending and entitlements?

Inhofe Recognized for Stopping Cap-and-Trade Legislation

Washington Times

Inhofe, Pretty Cool 

Link to article 

Catching up on items that should not have gone unnoticed....

On March 2, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Freedom Action honored Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, with what they called the "Coolest Head Award," for keeping his wits and his cool amidst all the hot air coming from global warming alarmists. Back in 2003, when Global Warming Enthusiasm was on the march as almost an official religion of the cognoscenti, Sen. Inhofe took over the Environment and Public Works Committee and started what seemed like a very lonely, one-man, rear-guard action against cap-and-trade legislation that was expected to eventually make it into law with all the inevitability as the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation that had enjoyed similar cachet with "all the right people." Marshalling actual facts and cogent arguments, what he accomplished, according to CEI's statement, was that "he won every debate and every vote in the Senate on cap-and-trade legislation-on the Lieberman-McCain bill in 2003; on the McCain-Lieberman bill in 2005; and on the Lieberman-Warner bill in 2008. In the 111th Congress, Senator Inhofe's opposition was so effective that Senators John Kerry and Barbara Boxer failed even to bring their cap-and-trade bill to the floor for a vote."

Also from the CEI release: "There are three remarkable aspects of Senator Inhofe's steadfast opposition. First, he became familiar with the range of climate science to a degree beyond any other Member of Congress. Second, because he understood that the scientific case for global warming alarmism was incredibly weak, he remained unalterably opposed to all energy-rationing policies and confident that cap-and-trade could be defeated even after many of his conservative colleagues decided that some form of emissions controls were inevitable. While his conservative colleagues began to trim their rhetoric and look for compromise, Senator Inhofe defiantly repeated that global warming alarmism was the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people. Third, Senator Inhofe pursued his opposition to cap-and-trade despite in the face of incredible amounts of abuse and far beyond his own political self interest. To stick your neck out in the way Senator Inhofe has done is a rare thing in politics."

Google Sen. Inhofe's name and one comes up with all sorts of media descriptions of him as a "brazen" "denier" who "abuses climate science." Witness an American Prospect opinion piece in 2005 that claimed "when it comes to climate change, Inhofe doesn't seem to care whether he has a sound argument to make, so long as he has something contrary to say that takes at least some effort to deconstruct."

Well, the science is not so certain now. Sen. Inhofe's criticisms, for good reason, aren't so lonely anymore, and they are carrying the day politically. Some would say that's pretty cool.