Friday, March 30, 2007

EPW Committee Passes WRDA Bill, Martella Nomination

On Thursday, March 29, 2007, Senator Inhofe praised committee passage of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) and nomination of Roger Martella for General Counsel of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) following the EPW Committee business meeting. The WRDA bill that passed out of the Committee today is essentially the same bill the Senate passed last year, which should allow for faster consideration in the Senate. Today’s approval of Mr. Martella’s nomination is the second time the EPW Committee has favorably reported his nomination.

“The unanimous vote in favor of the WRDA bill today represents the Committee’s commitment to getting this bill to the President as soon as possible,” Senator Inhofe said. “The WRDA bill provides numerous project authorizations and policy improvements that are vital to the nation’s economy, public safety and environment. I believe that because the Committee is building upon last year’s efforts, we should be able to move the bill quickly through the Senate and back to conference with the House.

“I am also pleased that the Committee favorably reported the nomination of Roger Martella to be General Counsel of the Environmental Protection Agency. As the Principal Deputy General Counsel of the EPA and a highly qualified career attorney, I believe Mr. Martella will make an excellent General Counsel. I look forward to his nomination moving to the floor for a vote as soon as possible.”


NOMINATIONS ( Both Approved by Voice Vote):

Nomination of Bradley Udall to be a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Morris K. Udall Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental Policy Foundation (reappointment)

Nomination of Roger Romulus Martella, Jr. to be an Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (General Counsel)

LEGISLATION (All Approved by Voice Vote):

S. 801, a bill to designate a United States courthouse in Fresno, California as the Robert E. Coyle United States Courthouse

S. 521, a bill to designate the Federal building and courthouse in Duluth, Minnesota, as the Gerald W. Heaney Federal Building and United States Courthouse and Customhouse.

S. 992, The Public Buildings Cost Reduction Act of 2007, as modified by Warner amendment 1 (as modified) and Warner amendment 2 (as modified)

S. ____, The Water Resources Development Act of 2007

S. 496, The Appalachian Regional Development Act Amendments of 2007.

Opening Statement: EPW Business Meeting

March 30, 2007
Thank you Senator Boxer for calling this business meeting.  I’d like to take just a moment to briefly mention a few of the bills on the agenda.  First, the Water Resources Development Act – I’m very pleased that we are considering this bill today.  We’ve been working on a WRDA bill for several years now, but something always seemed to derail it.  I am hopeful we will be able to get it signed into law this year.
I don’t know that there’s anything new to be said to highlight the importance of enacting this bill.  We all know the individual projects and policy provisions that are most critical to our own States.  We’ve also discussed on numerous occasions the provisions that have significant national implications.
So, Madam Chairman, I’d simply like to reiterate my commitment to working with you and Senators Baucus and Isakson in order to move a good, bipartisan product through the process as quickly as possible.  I’ve said it before, and I believe you have too, but I’d like us to then plan to work on a WRDA 2008 bill in order to get us back on the intended biennial cycle.  If we can get back to a reliable schedule, I think we can avoid several of the problems we have encountered with this bill.
Also on today’s agenda is Senator Voinovich’s bill to reauthorize the Appalachian Regional Commission.  I know he worked very hard last year trying to get this bill done, but unfortunately it got hung up in the House.  I am pleased we were able to add his new bill to the agenda and hope we will also be able to move it through the Senate in a timely fashion.
Today we will also be considering S. 992, the Public Buildings Cost Reduction Act of 2007, which I cosponsored with you, Madam Chairman, and several other members of this Committee.  Energy efficiency, along with developing new domestic energy sources and ensuring a diverse energy portfolio, is a key component of our overall energy security.  This bill will help enable buildings at both the Federal and local government levels to achieve cost savings through more energy-efficient operation.
Finally, I am pleased that the Committee is considering the nomination of Roger Martella.  He is a highly qualified career attorney, who will make an excellent General Counsel.  I support his nomination.  


Opening Statement: Hearing on Reducing Government Building Operational Costs Through Innovation and Efficiency: Legislative Solutions.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Thank you, Madam Chairman.  I appreciate you holding this hearing to discuss ways to increase efficiency in building operations.

Innovation and efficiency have been cornerstones of American industry and society, from post-Revolution industrialization, to Henry Ford’s assembly line, to the post-World War II boom, right up through today’s continued economic growth.  Using less to do more has long been a principle that has helped the United States become the most prosperous nation the world has ever seen.  And along with developing new domestic sources of energy and ensuring a diverse energy supply, increasing efficiency is an important part of enhancing our overall energy security.
Recent years have seen great strides in the area of energy efficiency.  Out of 105 recommendations in President Bush’s 2001 National Energy Policy, more than half specifically address efforts to improve energy efficiency and to improve the performance and lower the cost of alternative forms of energy.  Additionally, the President recently signed Executive Order 13423, which directs Federal agencies to implement sustainable practices for energy efficiency as well as high-performance buildings, recycling, and renewables, among others.
In 2006, 20 Federal agencies and the White House Counsel on Environmental Quality signed a Memorandum of Understanding titled “Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings.”  In signing on to the Memorandum, these Agencies committed to optimizing energy performance and conserving water in their buildings, as well as enhancing indoor environmental quality and reducing the environmental impact of building materials.  The General Services Administration is one of the signatories of that Memorandum – welcome, Commissioner Winstead, and I look forward to your testimony.
And the Energy Policy Act of 2005 contains numerous provisions pertaining to energy efficiency.  There are standards and incentives that address private homes, commercial buildings, and Federal facilities.  There are tax credits available for homeowners and homebuilders who meet energy efficiency requirements, and deductions for commercial buildings that meet a 50-percent energy reduction standard.  New Federal standards include a 30-percent reduction below ASHRAE standards in energy use for new buildings, and new standards for 15 large appliances.  According to the Senate Energy Committee, the energy savings from the new efficiency standards put forward in the Energy Policy Act will be equal to eighty (80) 600-megawatt power plants by the year 2020.
Madam Chairman, I am glad that Democrats in leadership positions, such as yourself, are ready to embrace this Administration’s stance on energy efficiency measures, and I am glad to cosponsor the “Public Buildings Cost Reduction Act of 2007” with you, although I still have some questions about how the program would work.  However, in considering legislation, we should always be cautious of any new mandates we are creating.  I welcome today Ms. Melanie Townshend, who is testifying on behalf of the Associated General Contractors of America.  In her testimony, Ms. Townsend will discuss concerns that I have heard expressed by many others about favoring one green building standard over others in legislation – what would essentially be brand endorsement by law. 
I look forward to hearing from each of our witnesses today.  Thank you, Madam Chairman.

Democrats' False Claims on Chemical Security and Pre-Emption

Congressional Democrats and their liberal allies in the press claim that the Bush Administration is putting Americans at risk by issuing regulations to “pre-empt” State and local plant rules. One Democrat on the EPW Committee stated at a recent field hearing that the Bush administration “has proposed a federal regulation that would wipe out New Jersey’s chemical security protections.”

FACT:  Nothing in the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) proposal would automatically preempt State law. It simply reserves the Secretary’s ability to preempt if a request is made and the Secretary finds that a state law, administrative order or Court order would make compliance with both the State law and DHS requirements not possible or if the state law would present an obstacle to or frustrate the purposes of the final DHS rule.  It does not give the Secretary carte blanche authority to preempt any and all state security statutes. 

Last year’s chemical security law would for the first time impose security standards on chemical facilities and would require them to conduct vulnerability assessments and site security plans.  These plans would be subject to the Secretary’s approval.   Current law provides full protection to these sensitive security documents.

Those seeking to roll back last year’s chemical security bill are really looking to help the environmental extremists fulfill one of their goals, the rewrite the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) which is entirely unrelated to national security but is impacting national security decisions.

The EPW Committee has jurisdiction over TSCA, which is the primary federal statute governing the manufacture of chemicals.  It preempts state law with few exceptions. TSCA (15 U.S C. 2617) states:

" state or political subdivision of a State may....establish or continue in effect any requirement which is applicable to such substance or mixture, or an article containing such substance or mixture, and which is designed to protect against such risk unless such adopted under the authority of the Clean Air Act or any other Federal law...."

Therefore, if the Democrat provision, mandating IST,  becomes law then states could use their authority under that statute to regulate the manufacture and sale of chemicals arguing that Congress gave them the authority to do so through the chemical security law.

Now consider the debate over Inherently Safer Technologies (IST).

IST is an environmental concept that dates back more than a decade when the extremist environmental community was seeking bans on chlorine. After 9/11, they decided to manipulate the fears of the American public and repackage IST has the solution to all of our security concerns. Therefore it should not be surprising that those arguing most vehemently for IST in security legislation are NOT security experts, but rather, environmental groups. This only underscores the fact that IST is not a security measure; it is a backdoor attempt at increasing the regulation of chemicals operating under the guise of security.  

Clearly Congressional Democrats whose language in the House supplemental would allow terrorists to access sensitive information through the courts are taking their marching orders on national security issue from non-security related liberal special interest groups.

Additional Information

Inhofe Opening Statement: Hearing: Subcommittee Field Hearing to examine the importance of state and local authorities in ensuring chemical plant security.

EPW Fact of the Day: Democrat Rollback On Chemical Security

Inhofe Press Release: Senators Send Letter Opposing Democrat’s Attempt To Rollback Chemical Security Regulations

Inhofe Press Release: Inhofe-Collins Letter Rejects House Chemical Security Language

In Case You Missed It… BAD CHEMISTRY (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2007)

In Case You Missed It...Bad Chemistry (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2007)



Link to Article

March 28, 2007

Democrats in Congress have packed $20 billion of pork into the Iraq war spending bill, so why not lard on an all-politics solution to securing the nation's chemical facilities.

"Toxic" chemicals, as aficionados of endless political crusades know, have been a target of the environmental left for decades. After 9/11, they saw an opportunity. They've argued that the path to chemical security lies in requiring the industry to use "inherently safer technologies." Guess what "inherently safer" means: Banning some chemicals or requiring substitutes.

The substances greens consider most "unsafe" happen to be the ones they've been trying to eliminate for years, for reasons having nothing to do with terrorists. Inconveniently, most of these chemicals, such as chlorine, serve vital public-health purposes and have no substitutes. Opposed to this one-size-fits-all mandate for an entire industry stands the Department of Homeland Security. Late last year it issued broad draft regulations that laid out stringent standards for chemical-plant security, but gave companies flexibility to decide how to meet those standards.

This approach makes sense, because what we call the "chemical industry" is, like chemistry itself, various and complex. Different companies specialize in different chemicals, which have different security risks. Since 9/11, the industry has spent more than $3.5 billion on security measures. Rather than force each firm to start over with straight-jacket procedures, the Administration would build on the industry's specialized knowledge, giving it the freedom to develop innovative solutions.

Up to now, the green groups have had no success getting the government or previous Republican Congress to buy into banning chemicals to achieve "inherently safer" technologies. So they turned to the states. Three -- New Jersey, New York and Maryland -- have developed chemical security programs. New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, who as a Senator led an unsuccessful chemical-ban charge, is pushing to require facilities in his state to use "inherently safer" technologies.

The greens' banning-as-security strategy in the states has hit a snag: Homeland Security's draft regulations reserve the right of the federal government to pre-empt state laws in certain situations. The argument for pre-emption is national security, as with port or airline security. But after years of siccing the Environmental Protection Agency on their targets, the greens have turned to the new Democratic majority to give them "federalism."

And so a provision in last week's House Iraq war supplemental would block DHS from approving a chemical facility plan unless it "exceeds" state standards. New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg has included a provision that gives states the right to go beyond the federal government.

Let's hope Senate Republicans get these chemical provisions excised from the final war-spending bill. Homeland Security is within two weeks of issuing its final rules. Throwing a monkeywrench now will merely guarantee more years of wrangling over chemical security rules that should have been settled long ago. If greens and Democrats want to rid the world of chemicals for environmental reasons, then engage in an open debate about the pros and cons rather than waving "terror" as a ruse.

In Case You Missed It...China Seen Topping U.S. Carbon Emissions in 2007 (Reuters, March 23, 2007)



Web link

Fri Mar 23, 2007

By Emma Graham-Harrison and Gerard Wynn

BEIJING/LONDON (Reuters) - China is on course to overtake the United States this year as the world's biggest carbon emitter, estimates based on Chinese energy data show, potentially pressuring Beijing to take more action on climate change.

China's emissions rose by some 10 percent in 2005, a senior U.S. scientist estimated, while Beijing data shows fuel consumption rose more than 9 percent in 2006, suggesting China would easily outstrip the U.S. this year, long before forecasts.

Taking the top spot would focus pressure on China to do more to brake emissions as part of world talks on extending the United Nations' Kyoto Protocol on global warming beyond 2012.

Thirty five developed nations have agreed to cut emissions under Kyoto and they want others -- especially the United States and China -- to do more.

"It looks likely to me that China will pass the United States this year," said Gregg Marland, a senior staff scientist at the U.S. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC), which supplies data to governments, researchers and non-governmental organizations worldwide.

"There's a very high likelihood they'll pass them in 2007."

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is produced by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas for heat, power and transport. Most scientists say it is a key contributor to global warming.

Marland used fossil fuel consumption data from oil company BP to calculate China's CO2 emissions in 2005 at 5.3 billion tonnes, versus 5.9 billion for the U.S., with respective growth in 2005 of 10.5 percent and less than 0.1 percent.

In 2006 Chinese fuel consumption rose 9.3 percent to the equivalent of 2.4 billion tonnes of coal that year, the deputy head of the office that advises China on energy policy, Xu Dingming, said on Thursday.

This was faster than BP's estimate of a 9 percent rise in China's oil, gas and coal consumption in 2005, to 1.45 billion tonnes of oil equivalent.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), which advises 26 rich nations, had already said last November that on current trends China would overtake the United States as the world's biggest carbon emitter before 2010.

China's Office of the National Coordination Committee on Climate Change said it could not comment on either forecast as it did not have a reliable estimate of the country's emissions.

"These figures are very complicated -- we don't have an estimate of CO2 for such a recent date," said an official who declined to be named. "We have just set in motion our national reporting plan... but it will not be done for two or three years."


U.N. data for 2003 put the U.S. top with 23 percent of world carbon dioxide emissions and China second on 16.5 percent. But U.S. individuals were far bigger emitters, at 20 tonnes per capita against China's 3.2 tonnes and a world average of 3.7.

China argues that wealthy nations are responsible for most of the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere and should lead the way in cutting emissions.

And much of the growth in China's emissions is to produce goods consumed in the West, raising ethical questions over who bears responsibility for those emissions.

Higher economic growth and fuel use translates into higher emissions, particularly in China, which gets around 70 percent of its energy from coal, the highest carbon-emitting fuel.

CDIAC's 2004 emissions estimates, based on BP data, closely matched the IEA's estimates for the same year -- reached using its own energy data and U.N. emissions calculation methods, strengthening the reliability of the BP data, Marland said.

He estimated a plus or minus 15 to 20 percent error in the Chinese data versus a possible 5 percent U.S. error margin.

China's rapid growth in carbon emissions is threatening to outweigh efforts by the European Union and others to tackle climate change -- EU leaders said earlier this month they would cut the bloc's greenhouse gases by at least a fifth by 2020.

But China between now and 2015 will build power generating capacity equal to the entire existing capacity in the whole of the European Union, the IEA estimates.

China's growth has been fueled largely by burning coal, and it is still building new power plants at an unprecedented rate. Last year alone it added around 100 gigawatts of new generators, approaching France's entire capacity, most of them coal-burning.

A United Nations panel of climate scientists predicted last month a "best estimate" that temperatures would rise by 1.8 to 4.0 Celsius (3.2 to 7.8 Fahrenheit) this century, blaming mankind's emissions of greenhouse gases like CO2.