Friday, March 18, 2011

Inhofe Hearing Statement: Full Committee Briefing on Nuclear Plant Crisis in Japan and Implications for the United States

At a Full Committee Briefing on the Nuclear Plant Crisis in Japan and Implications for the United States, Senator Inhofe gave the following statement:

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Japanese people as they struggle to cope with this catastrophe.  Their calm and perseverance in the face of this crisis is a testament to their character. 

Chairman Jaczko, I appreciated your phone call on Monday.  I want to emphasize my commitment to support the NRC with any resources they may need in their efforts to assist the Japanese. 

Thinking closer to home, I was pleased to hear you say that the NRC is continuing its work and not halting licensing efforts in a knee-jerk reaction to current events.

Clearly, there will be lessons that the nuclear industry world-wide will need to learn from this to make nuclear energy safer.  However, it is premature to draw conclusions about the U.S. nuclear energy program from the tragedy in Japan.  

I agree with Chairman Jaczko that our nuclear plants are safe.  Our reactors are robust and designed to withstand significant natural disasters like earthquakes, tornados and hurricanes.  They incorporate a defense-in-depth approach and have multiple levels of redundant systems.  The NRC and the industry have a systematic process to incorporate lessons learned from events worldwide and improve the safety of our plants.  For example, the NRC and industry worked together to revise plant protections in the wake of the embassy bombings in 1998 and to address aircraft concerns following September 11.

I agree with Sec. Chu that we should continue to develop new nuclear plants.  While every nuclear country will draw their OWN conclusions on the future of nuclear, I firmly believe the U.S. should continue forward. 

In the wake of this disaster, I believe that any immediate scrutiny by the NRC should be measured and limited to those plants which face a significant tsunami risk.  The two new nuclear plants under development in Georgia and South Carolina DO NOT face such risks and should move forward.  The NRC and its advisory body of experts have reviewed the AP1000 design proposed for both sites and declared that it is safe and meets all regulatory requirements.  It is appropriate that we move forward with the licensing work and construction of these new reactors while we look closely for lessons learned for the existing fleet, rather than pursue an unnecessary delay.  Our nation's need for reliable, affordable energy won't wait.

Republicans Introduce Energy Tax Prevention Act as Amendment to Small Business Bill

On March 14, Senator Inhofe released the following statement after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 as an amendment to small business legislation. 

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

Link to The Hill: McConnell seeks Senate showdown on EPA climate rules

"The Energy Tax Prevention Act would end EPA's backdoor cap-and-trade agenda," Sen. Inhofe said. "That agenda is designed to make gasoline and electricity more expensive for consumers, families, farmers, truckers-essentially anyone who fills up or flips a switch.  It's also designed to restrict the supply and block the production of America's vast energy resources, which are the largest on Earth. 

"Today was a wake-up call to my colleagues: we have legislation before us to help keep energy prices affordable.  Now they have a choice: to support the Obama Administration's attack on affordable energy, which will bring fewer jobs, a less competitive manufacturing sector, and a chronically sluggish economy, or vote for the Energy Tax Prevention Act to grow the economy and protect small businesses, manufacturers, and consumers from higher energy prices."


- The Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill that ultimately died in Congress would have raised gasoline prices, according to the Energy Information Administration, by 33 percent (up to $1.28 more per gallon) in 2030. 

 - Obama Administration officials repeatedly expressed a preference for legislation over EPA's regulations, on the assumption that it would cost consumers less.  "I firmly believe," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said, "and the president has said all along that new legislation is the best way to deal with climate change."

 - Indeed, energy prices must increase in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.  As Peter Orszag, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, testified:

Price increases would be essential to the success of a cap-and-trade program because they would be the most important mechanism through which businesses and households would be encouraged to make investments and behavioral changes that reduced CO2 emissions. [Emphasis added]

 - EPA's regulations already are impacting oil refiners.  Consider Lion Oil.  Vice President Steve Cousins recently testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee that his company began a major $2 million expansion of its El Dorado refinery in 2007, with 2,000 construction jobs, but its completion has since been stalled.  As Cousins explained:

"The uncertainty and potentially prohibitive costs associated with possible cap-and-trade legislation and EPA's greenhouse gas regulations were a critical factor leading us to delay the completion of the expansion."

 - Cousins also testified in 2009 that cap-and-trade legislation would have forced his company out of business.  He sees the same threat looming at EPA:

"It is our fear that left unchecked, EPA will use the Clean Air Act to drive to exactly the same goals as the defeated cap-and-trade legislation that Congress so wisely chose not to pass. And in that pursuit, EPA will inflict the same damage on our company and our nation's economy."

In the News..."Senate Dems Scramble to Defend EPA" - "Spooked" - "The Vote Could Embarrass Democrats" - "Not Ready For Prime Time"

Tulsa World: Inhofe on Dems Delay: "Time is Not On Their Side" - A vote on a controversial proposal by U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe to block a federal agency from regulating greenhouse gases was put off Thursday until after next week's recess.  "I am relieved,'' the Oklahoma Republican said, promising to use the next nine days effectively.  "Time is not their friend.''  Noting the expectation set by the Democratic leadership on the proposal, Inhofe said the vote was delayed because opponents were not sure of its outcome.  "If they knew they had the votes, they would have brought it up,'' he said.  Inhofe again expressed optimism about his proposal's chances to be attached to a small business bill but conceded it could fall short of the 60 votes needed for victory.  Expected to be approved by the House in the coming weeks, the proposal would block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases in response to climate change. Inhofe and other opponents of such EPA action predict it would have do huge harm to the nation's economy.  

Greenwire: "The Vote Could Embarrass Democrats" - But even if the McConnell amendment does not draw the needed votes to pass the Senate -- which it seems unlikely to do -- the vote could embarrass Democrats because many of their moderates will feel pressure to cross party lines to vote for the amendment to show their support for home-state smokestack industries that would be affected by the EPA rules. An additional source of embarrassment for Democrats comes from a member of their own caucus. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) is pushing for a vote on his bill to prevent EPA from implementing its stationary source rules for carbon dioxide for two years. While Republicans say the Rockefeller amendment could provide Democrats from coal, oil and manufacturing states with the political cover they need to skirt the McConnell-Inhofe amendment, the Rockefeller amendment would also mean a second recorded vote on EPA pre-emption -- a situation Democrats may be seeking to avoid by delaying amendment votes until later in the month. 

PoliticoPro: "Senate climate vote not ready for prime time" - For Republicans, this week's EPA standoff demonstrates that they are quite capable of forcing an uncomfortable floor debate on climate policy even though Democrats have no plans to bring up related issues through regular order. Inhofe said he planned to keep bringing up his anti-EPA plan as an amendment on future pieces of legislation. He also took aim at the Rockefeller alternative, calling it "a cover vote for those people who don't want to go home and say ‘I'm responsible for the EPA putting everyone out of business.'"  

Politico Pro Senate Dems scramble to defend EPA - Senate Democrats are scrambling to combat a GOP-led offensive against the Obama administration's climate regulations ahead of a possible Wednesday floor showdown. In a surprising move, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid signaled Tuesday he would allow a floor vote on a Republican amendment to nullify the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered the amendment - authored by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) - to the small-business bill pending on the floor. The language mirrors the anti-EPA bill the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed during a daylong markup Tuesday. Now, Reid and other top Senate Democrats who oppose the amendment are looking for ways to kill it. And they may have a tougher time than they expected, given the momentum after the Energy and Commerce vote and anti-EPA sentiment among moderate Senate Democrats.  

The Hill: Upton-Inhofe Advances in House -  Republicans on a key House panel approved a bill Tuesday that would permanently block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a 34-19 vote. The bill won the support of every Republican and three Democrats: Reps. Mike Ross (Ark.), Jim Matheson (Utah) and John Barrow (Ga.). It's the latest step forward for the legislation, which would prohibit the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources such as power plants and refineries. The bill, authored by House Energy Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), is expected to come up on the House floor in the coming weeks.  

National Journal: Inhofe Ready for Long Fight With EPA - If a measure preempting the Environmental Protection Agency's carbon-emissions regulations does not succeed as an amendment to a pending small-business bill, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., says he will not relent."I may not get it today, but that is going to go on every amendment or every bill that comes up where it is germane," said Inhofe, ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, on Wednesday. 

Roll Call: Moderate Dems in "Unsavory" Position  - The Environmental Protection Agency vote would be a tough one for some moderate Democrats, who would find themselves in the unsavory position of having to choose between the Obama administration and an anti-regulation Republican movement in Congress. The Kentucky Republican introduced the amendment Tuesday, and Republican aides have been grousing that no agreement has been reached to schedule a vote.  Further complicating matters, two Democratic Senators - Max Baucus (Mont.) and Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.) - want votes on their own EPA-related amendments if McConnell gets his. Rockefeller's amendment would institute a two-year moratorium rather than a permanent ban on the EPA's power to police greenhouse gasses. Baucus' proposal would exempt agricultural producers and certain small businesses from EPA greenhouse gas regulations.  The Senate on Thursday afternoon suspended debate on the small-business bill and took up a three-week stopgap spending measure that Obama must sign by tomorrow to avert a government shutdown. The continuing resolution - the sixth of this fiscal year - would cut another $6 billion in federal spending. It would keep the government funded through April 8.  Thursday afternoon votes on the spending measure and a judicial nomination are slated to be the Senate's final votes before next week's recess.  

BNA: Murkowski on Rockefeller: "That Boat Has Kind of Already Left the Dock" - Republicans who have lined up behind the McConnell amendment, such as Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), said Rockefeller's alternative plan to delay the stationary source rules made little sense given that those EPA rules are already in effect as of Jan. 2."The boat has kind of already left the dock there. Rockefeller's effort is in my opinion a little bit late," Murkowski told reporters earlier in the day, adding that there is increasing support in the House and Senate for a permanent end to EPA's authority over greenhouse gas emissions. "If we say EPA should not be regulating, that's a statement that holds true today and it holds true two years" from now, which is why many Republicans want more than the two-year suspension proposed by Rockefeller, she said.

Inhofe, Johanns Introduce CARE Act

On March 16, Sen. Inhofe and Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), introduced today the Comprehensive Assessment of Regulations on the Economy (CARE) Act, which requires the Environmental Protection Agency, in conjunction with other relevant federal departments and agencies, to determine the total cost of several major rules EPA is preparing to issue. 

Link to S. 609, 'CARE ACT'

Link to Section by Section of 'CARE ACT'

Link to The Hill: Inhofe floats till to require broad economic analysis of EPA rules

To date, EPA has refused to conduct an analysis examining the total economic impact of its rules on jobs; retail electricity rates and gasoline prices; power plant closures; state and local governments; small businesses; electric reliability; and energy-intensive manufacturers.  

Senator Inhofe: "EPA continues to propose and promulgate rules at a break-neck pace without a complete and accurate understanding of their impacts on consumers, jobs, and small businesses.  EPA's proposed utility MACT today could, by itself, shut down up to 20 percent of America's coal-fired power capacity.  When you add in all of the rules and regulations from EPA's cap-and-trade agenda, the outlook for jobs and economic growth looks dire.  

"This bill is about transparency: the public needs to know the full cost of these rules and the impacts when they fill up at the pump and flip the light switch.  It will also help guide and inform Congress as it decides how best to deal with the unprecedented barrage of rules coming out of EPA."   

Senator Johanns: "This is a very simple effort to get the federal government to weigh the impact of EPA's regulatory regime on job creation and the overall economy. It would infuse common sense into an agency that seems to be in dire need of it. Our country's ag producers, families and job creators deserve to know the cost of the rules being aimed directly at them."


The CARE bill would establish a federal committee, led by the Department of Commerce, to conduct this analysis.  The committee would include, among others, the EPA Administrator, the Secretaries of Agriculture, Energy, Defense, and Labor, the Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as well as the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.  The committee would examine the economic impacts of several EPA regulations on:

 - employment, including job levels in each segment of the economy and each region of the United States, including coal-producing regions;

 - economic development, including production levels and labor demands in manufacturing, commercial, and other sectors of the economy;

 - the electric power sector, including potential impacts on electric reliability, energy security, and retail electricity rates;

 - the domestic refining and petrochemical sector, including potential impacts on supply, international competitiveness, and wholesale and retail transportation fuels, heating oil and petrochemicals prices; and

 - State and local governments, including potential impacts on governmental operations and local communities from any reductions in State and local tax revenues

The rules the committee would examine would include, among others:

 - Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards for power plants;

 - National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter and ozone;

 - New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for greenhouse gases covering utilities and refineries;

 - Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) preconstruction review permits for greenhouse gases;

 - Cooling water intake structures under 316(b) of the Clean Water Act

 - Regional Haze; and

 - Coal Combustion Waste under the Solid Waste Disposal Act

EPA Agrees to Inhofe Request for Haze Hearing in Tulsa

On March 18, Sen. Inhofe welcomed the announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to hold a second hearing in Tulsa on Oklahoma's proposed solution for regional haze.  EPA's announcement follows Sen. Inhofe's March 17 letter to EPA Region 6 Administrator Dr. Al Armendariz, in which Inhofe requested the hearing.

The hearing will address the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality backed-plan that balances environmental protection and the need for affordable, reliable energy for state utility customers.  In a misguided decision, EPA rejected ODEQ's solution and assumed control of Oklahoma's regional haze planning and implementation. 

"I want to thank EPA, in particular Region 6 Administrator Dr. Armendariz, for agreeing to my request to hold a hearing in Tulsa," Senator Inhofe said. "It will provide an opportunity for local businesses, farmers and manufacturers to understand the reasoning behind EPA's decision, which is estimated to cost state utilities $2 billion.  Oklahoma consumers would undoubtedly foot the bill.  

"I look forward to an open, frank discussion between EPA and Oklahoma residents about the need for affordable, reliable energy and continuing the state's progress in reducing emissions and protecting the environment."

Link to Article: Tulsa World: Inhofe wants EPA haze pollution hearing held in Tulsa 

Full text of letter below 

March 17, 2011


Dr. Al Armendariz

Regional Administrator

Environmental Protection Agency Region 6

Fountain Place 12th Floor, Suite 1200

1445 Ross Avenue

Dallas, TX 75202-2733

Re: Oklahoma's Regional Haze State Implementation Plan


Dear Administrator Armendariz,

I am writing concerning the EPA's rejection of Oklahoma's proposed Regional Haze State Implementation Plan (SIP).  As you are aware, I have been concerned for some time that EPA Region 6 would deny Oklahoma's proposed Regional Haze SIP, impose costs of nearly $2 billion on Oklahoma's utilities, and ignore a promising long-term regional haze plan supported by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) and local utilities.  EPA has assumed the State's role under the Clean Air Act and has simply chosen not to exercise its discretion to approve the Greater Reasonable Progress Alternative Determination.  I continue to believe denying Oklahoma's proposed SIP and the Greater Reasonable Progress Alternative Determination will result in higher utility rates for Oklahoma consumers and less flexibility for Oklahoma utilities.  

Since, one of the factors for determining BART applicability is cost effectiveness, I would like EPA's review and analysis of the cost information which ODEQ and the utilities submitted. 

Although I understand that EPA will hold a public hearing on the federal implementation plan in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, April 13, 2011, I request an additional public hearing in Tulsa.  This is a matter which has received the attention of leaders throughout the state, and I believe an additional public hearing in Tulsa is necessary. 

Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to direct your staff to contact Ryan Jackson at 202-224-0152 or George Sugiyama at 202-224-0146.  I look forward to your response.




Ranking Member 

Inhofe Hearing Statement: Full Committee hearing on the Report to the President from the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling

On March 16, Senator Inhofe gave the following statement at the Full Committee hearing on the Report to the President from the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling:

Thank you, Madam Chair, for scheduling today's hearing to discuss the findings and recommendations of the President's National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. 

I also want to welcome Chairman Reilly, and welcome Senator Graham back to the Senate; I appreciate their work on this important report.  I think we all can agree that the commission did a terrific job arranging a massive volume of complex information, releasing it in readable form, and doing it under budget. 

I support some of the commission's conclusions and recommendations, while I have problems with others.  There are specific issues raised by the commission that fall under the jurisdiction of this committee, including reforms to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and to the Oil Pollution Act.  I look forward to hearing from the co-chairs on these important issues.

The commission calls for greater, more effective safety regulations.  I don't think we need more regulations, but they can certainly be more effective.  And to be effective, regulations must not be an obstacle to increasing our domestic production.  As Chairman Reilly himself recently put it, "We vitally need the resources of offshore oil and gas, that's where the future lies.  This industry is a major contributor to our supplies and will become a significantly more important contributor in the future." 

And what of our domestic supplies?  According to the Congressional Research Service, America's combined recoverable natural gas, oil, and coal endowment is the largest on Earth.  In fact, America's recoverable resources are far larger than those of Saudi Arabia, China, and Canada combined.

Despite this, the Obama Administration has made a conscious policy choice to block domestic production.  Consider the proposed rule by the new regulatory body in the Department of Interior overseeing offshore production.  Here's what it said about the regulations it proposed late last year:

"The impact on domestic deepwater hydrocarbon production as a result of these regulations is expected to be negative...Currently there is sufficient spare capacity in OPEC to offset a decrease in GOM deepwater production that could occur as a result of this rule." [Emphasis added]

In other words, the Obama Administration is admitting what is simply a matter of common sense: if we decrease production, we will increase our dependence on foreign oil. 

This is the inevitable result of the Obama Administration's cap-and-trade agenda.  EPA is moving forward with regulations that will restrict, impede, and stop domestic energy production.  Energy prices therefore will go up; as President Obama put it, "electricity prices will necessarily skyrocket." 

This is the wrong approach.  I agree with the commission that we should protect the workers who supply the energy we take for granted every day and protect the environment.  But I also agree with the commission that we should produce our own resources, which are the largest in the world.  In fact, we should increase that production.  I hope that the Obama Administration will agree, too.

Policy Beat: Do Away with a Two Year Delay

After Obamacare took effect, opponents realized that delaying Obamacare was not an option.  The same principle applies to the Rockefeller bill: EPA's cap-and-trade agenda under the Clean Air Act is bad policy, which will raise energy prices and destroy jobs.  It should be repealed, not delayed. 

The choice, then, is clear: the Upton-Inhofe bill repeals EPA's regulatory power grab, while the Rockefeller bill allows it to continue after only two years. In effect, Rockefeller implicitly endorses EPA's cap-and-trade agenda under the Clean Air Act; thus a vote for Rockefeller is a vote for EPA's cap-and-trade agenda.

Rockefeller also fails to provide certainty for business planning and investment.   Businesses typically plan on a 10- to 15- year time horizon.  A two-year delay does nothing to clarify the contours of the regulatory landscape, and would merely prolong the uncertainty currently plaguing the economy.

Rockefeller also has serious practical flaws:

1) It does not prevent EPA from issuing a National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for carbon dioxide and methane; nor does it bar the use of other existing CAA authorities to regulate stationary sources.

2) It does not prevent EPA from establishing new regulatory standards under Title II (which covers mobile sources), including low-carbon fuel standards, which will reduce domestic oil supplies and increase our dependence on foreign oil. 

3) It does nothing to prevent EPA from retroactively requiring GHG controls on covered sources. And even if sources were able to complete permit applications during the 2-year moratorium, the bill does not prevent EPA from holding those permits up until after the moratorium expires.

4) It applies to CO2 and methane gases only.  But pursuant to EPA's endangerment finding, EPA is moving forward with regulations relating to four other (six total) GHGs.

5) It does not relieve states from enforcing federal requirements.  Most states (rather than EPA) administer CAA permitting programs.  

6) It leaves the endangerment finding in place, thereby providing a legal basis for climate change "nuisance suits" sponsored by environmental pressure groups hostile to energy development. In addition, it does not prevent citizen suits under the CAA to enforce greenhouse gas permitting requirements.  

Upton-Inhofe removes all of these complications by simply repealing EPA's cap-and-trade agenda.  Rockefeller leaves them in place.  Again, the choice is clear. 

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

Inhofe Thanks Ohio Mayor for Supporting Energy Tax Prevention Act

On March 17, Sen. Inhofe thanked Rick Homrighausen, Mayor of Dover, Ohio, for expressing his support today for the Energy Tax Prevention Act during a joint EPW subcommittee hearing.

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

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

"Given the huge uncertainties and potential costs associated with GHG regulation," said Mayor Homrighausen, who also runs the city's coal-fired power plant, "I applaud Senator Inhofe for introducing S. 482, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011."

As a mayor from the "heart of the industrial Midwest," Homrighausen testified that EPA's cap-and-trade agenda could lead to "loss of local decision-making and control of our power supply, increased vulnerability to volatile electricity markets, eventually higher electricity costs to customers, and direct job losses at our power plant." Homrighausen also explained how EPA's cap-and-trade agenda would affect Ohio's energy-intensive manufacturers:

Because business decisions are most often related to their costs, we can only expect that significant electricity cost increases in Dover would also result in negative economic impacts for our energy-intensive business customers.

Notably, the Baucus amendment, circulated yesterday, would do nothing to alleviate these impacts. Designed to codify EPA's so-called "tailoring rule," the Baucus amendment attempts to shield small businesses and farmers from EPA's greenhouse gas permitting requirements. But in fact, small businesses, manufacturers, farmers, even schools and hospitals, would still pay the skyrocketing electricity, gasoline, diesel, and fertilizer prices that would result from EPA's mandates on larger stationary sources of emissions.

As Philip Nelson, Member of the Board of the American Farm Bureau Federation, explained recently to the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

Farmers and ranchers would still incur the higher costs of compliance passed down from utilities, refiners and fertilizer manufacturers that are directly regulated as of January 2, 2011. In addition, farms and ranches that meet the Clean Air Act thresholds are still eventually going to have to obtain Title V and PSD/NSR permits at some point in the future and will incur the direct costs described above.

Whether it's the Baucus or Rockefeller approach, bills that stop short of repealing EPA's back-door cap-and-trade agenda can't protect consumers, farmers, and families from higher energy costs. Even with carve-outs, EPA's regulations will inhibit growth and expansion in local communities, especially in coal-dependent regions. Mayor Homrighausen explained the situation well:

We need to be able to make careful, informed decisions that will enable our community to grow and prosper, but these decisions are increasingly difficult in the current climate of uncertainty and regulatory overreach by the EPA.

Inhofe Hearing Statement: Clean Air Act and Jobs

On March 17, Sentor Inhofe gave the following statement at an EPW Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety and Subcommittee on Green Jobs and the New Economy joint hearing entitled, "Clean Air Act and Jobs":

I want to thank all of the witnesses for attending today, and thank you, Sen. Carper and Sen. Sanders, for holding this hearing. 

I think we all embrace the significant air quality improvements achieved by businesses and other regulated sources under the Clean Air Act since 1970.  I think we also agree that we want clean air progress to continue.  Now here's where we disagree: on the extent, on the pace, and on the tools we use to achieve future success in reducing real pollution. 

My colleagues and the Obama EPA believe that more regulation, even if draconian, necessarily means more benefits and more jobs.  As David Montgomery of CRA International will show, this is simply wrong.  But you don't have to take my word for it, or even David's: just listen to the testimony of Mayor Homrighausen from the city of Dover, Ohio. 

You see, we invited the mayor today because, as he writes in his testimony, he's "from coal country," straight from "the heart of the industrial Midwest."  There are 950 commercial, industrial, and institutional businesses in Dover.  So the mayor knows first-hand that ill-conceived regulations can put jobs at risk.  In other words, there is a cost to what EPA is doing-and it will be borne in east-central Ohio and in communities just like it across the heartland.

I should note that the mayor is also the director of the city's municipal electric system, Dover Light and Power.  And from what I've read, Dover Light and Power is under siege as it faces an overlapping mess of unrealistic EPA mandates.  If they are not tempered by reality, Dover will have fewer jobs, fewer businesses, and higher electric rates. 

Now, the mayor is very proud of Dover's environmental record, and he wants to make greater progress in reducing pollution.  But his point is well-taken: EPA is doing too much, too fast.  And one point on which I'm sure he'd agree is that EPA has no idea of the cumulative economic impact of its regulations covering industrial boilers, coal-fired power plants, coal ash disposal sites, and manufacturing facilities; it has no idea of their impact on Dover's jobs, Dover's local revenues, and Dover's factories.

Well, Mr. Mayor, help is on the way.  Yesterday, Sen. Johanns (R-Neb.) and I introduced the Comprehensive Assessment of Regulations on the Economy, or CARE Act.  The bill puts the Department of Commerce in charge of a federal panel, comprised of several departments and agencies, which would conduct a cumulative economic analysis of all the rules you're concerned about.  The panel must look at impacts on jobs, agriculture, manufacturing, coal, electricity, and gasoline prices-all of the things that you and mayors like you care about. 

Help also comes in the form of the Energy Tax Prevention Act, also known as "Upton-Inhofe."  It would stop EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.  Both this bill and the CARE Act will help put a stop to the Obama Administration's harmful cap-and-trade agenda directed squarely at Dover, Ohio and the heartland of America.

In the News...Politio Pro: Public Cooling to Global Warming

POLITICO Pro: Poll: Public cooling to global warming

By Patrick Reis


Link to Gallup Poll

Americans' concern over climate change continues to decline, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

Only 51 percent of people surveyed in the annual poll described themselves as worried "a fair amount" or more about global warming, down from 66 percent in 2008.

The 51 percent overall figure is close to the Gallup's lowest score in the poll's 22-year history. The lowest was in 1998, when 50 percent of respondents expressed concern. The highest was in 2000, when 72 percent said they worried about warming.

One thing is consistent: concern over global warming remains highly partisan. Seventy-two percent of Democrats are worried about global warming, compared with 31 percent of Republicans.

Additionally, 43 percent of respondents believed that the threat of global warming is being overhyped, compared with 29 percent who thought it was underestimated and 26 percent who believe reporting on the risk of global warming is "generally correct."

Two out of three Republican respondents said the media is exaggerating the threat of global warming, while only 22 percent of Democrats believe it is overhyped.

A majority of respondents, 52 percent, said global warming was the result of pollution from human activities, up from 50 percent in 2010. Forty-three percent blamed changes in the natural environment.

Eighteen percent of respondents said global warming is not happening at all, down from 19 percent a year ago.

The poll surveyed more than 1,000 adults living in the continental U.S., and had a 4 percent margin for error. Gallup has conducted the survey every year since 1989.

In the News...Wall Street Journal: EPA Tangles With New Critic: Labor

The Wall Street Journal  

EPA Tangles With New Critic: Labor

By Stephen Power

March 14, 2011

Link to Article

WASHINGTON-The Obama administration's environmental agenda, long a target of American business, is beginning to take fire from some of the Democratic Party's most reliable supporters: Labor unions.

Several unions with strong influence in key states are demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency soften new regulations aimed at pollution associated with coal-fired power plants. Their contention: Roughly half a dozen rules expected to roll out within the next two years could put thousands of jobs in jeopardy and damage the party's 2012 election prospects.

"If the EPA issues regulations that cost jobs in Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Republicans will blast the President with it over and over," says Stewart Acuff, chief of staff to the president of the Utility Workers Union of America. "Not just the President. Every Democratic [lawmaker] from those states."

A range of American companies that depend on fossil fuel-from coal and oil firms to manufacturers-have complained about the Obama EPA, one reason the administration has had tense relations with business. In meetings in recent days, representatives of electric power utilities that rely heavily on coal-fired plants, and some large unions, have taken their concerns to the White House. The companies and the unions have said a new regulation targeting mercury and other toxic pollutants, due to be proposed this week, could lead to higher electric bills, billions of dollars in new costs and the closing of plants that employ thousands of workers.

Now that labor unions are joining the chorus, the pressure on the agency is intensifying. Some Democrats, worried about potential job losses in industrial states, are already urging the EPA to slow down its push to combat climate change.

EPA officials say such criticisms are premature, since some of the rules in question have yet to be proposed, and that history shows the benefits of tougher environmental rules greatly outweigh the costs.

But on some issues, the EPA has begun to slow the pace of its efforts, saying publicly that it needs more time to consider the science behind them or review comments from affected groups.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, or her top aide on air quality, Regina McCarthy, has recently spoken with representatives of several unions that collectively have given tens of millions of dollars over the years to Democratic candidates. Among them: the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, the Utility Workers Union and the United Mine Workers.

The EPA rule stirring the most anxiety will be proposed this week: It seeks to reduce emissions of toxic air pollutants, including mercury, which can cause neurological disorders in children.

An analysis by the miners' union says the proposal, along with others targeting coal-related pollution, could put at risk as many as 250,000 jobs. Many of those would come from the utility, mining and railroad sectors, with the heaviest impact falling on Rust Belt states that have many old coal plants-and electoral votes.

"These are the same doomsday scenarios we hear whenever we take steps to protect Americans from dangerous air pollution," responded EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan. He said it's too early for the union to calculate possible job losses. A study released by the agency this month said EPA regulations put in place between 1990 and 2005 and aimed at reducing soot and smog will yield $2 trillion in benefits in 2020, largely from fewer premature deaths.

"I think we have a really solid history of doing the rules in a way that makes sense," said Ms. McCarthy, the agency's assistant administrator for air and radiation. A White House spokesman says any proposed regulation will be consistent with a recent presidential order directing agencies to "consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility" while still protecting public health.

Companies that stand to benefit from tougher curbs on emissions from coal-fired power plants, including utilities that have invested heavily in wind, solar power and nuclear, are pushing the White House not to weaken the rules.

Chief executives of utilities that support stronger standards for coal-fired plants, including Baltimore-based Constellation Energy Group Inc., Florida-based NextEra Energy Inc. and Chicago-based Exelon Corp., the nation's largest owner of nuclear-power plants, met last week with White House Chief of Staff William Daley.

These companies, and some unions that see the rules as a potential economic catalyst, say that the industry has had years to prepare for tougher regulation and that the rules will generate jobs for workers who make, install or operate pollution control equipment.

Under President Barack Obama, the EPA has been one of Washington's busiest agencies. Responding to a 2007 Supreme Court decision, Ms. Jackson has invoked the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide and other gases linked to climate change. Those moves have prompted lawsuits from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and other industry groups.

Ms. Jackson has also sought to tighten regulations covering traditional pollutants associated with coal. Some of her proposals have come in response to federal court decisions that invalidated regulations set under President George W. Bush.

Nevertheless, the EPA has slowed its timetable for action on some issues in recent months. Ms. Jackson late last year delayed a decision on whether to tighten the government's limits on ground-level ozone, a primary ingredient in smog. A coalition of labor groups including Boilermakers, Mine Workers and Utility Workers warned her in a letter that tightening the standard would lead to "significant job losses across the country." A group of Democratic senators from Missouri, Indiana and Louisiana said in their own letter such a move would "have a significant negative impact on our states' workers."

Ms. Jackson has said she delayed her decision not in response to pressure, but to ensure the regulation is grounded in "the best science."

Last month, the EPA unveiled a scaled-back version of regulations it proposed last year targeting emissions of pollutants from industrial boilers after being deluged with letters and comments.

The United Steelworkers said in an August letter that "tens of thousands" of jobs at factories whose employees are represented by the Steelworkers "will be imperiled" by the rule, along with other related jobs.

A spokeswoman for the Steelworkers says the union hasn't fully assessed the new version of the rules. "We've been trying to work with the get to a place where the rules are a bit more mindful of the costs," says Roxanne Brown, the union's assistant legislative director.

The EPA said the rules will avert up to 6,600 premature deaths in 2014, while costing affected industries $2.1 billion a year, about half the cost of its initial proposal.

Not all unions take a dim view of the EPA's moves. William Hite, general president of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters, says that while his union is "certainly concerned" about the potential for job losses, the mercury rule could also create thousands of jobs for workers who build and install pollution control equipment.

At the same time, a delicate alliance has emerged between the unions and companies wary of the EPA. In February, representatives of the Boilermakers union and the IBEW met in Washington with Mike Morris, the CEO of American Electric Power Co. AEP, of Columbus, Ohio, is one of the nation's top coal burners and stands to be among the companies hardest hit by tougher EPA rules.

In January, Mr. Morris met with the president of the IBEW, Ed Hill, and the new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Fred Upton, (R., Mich.).

Rep. Upton, who has introduced legislation to strip the EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions, said in an interview that AEP's Mr. Morris requested the meeting, and that the three discussed concerns about the impact of new EPA regulations.

The unions lobbying the EPA are longtime Democratic Party supporters. Through its employees and political action committee, the IBEW has given $32.9 million to federal candidates and political parties since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based group that tracks campaign donations.

Nearly all of that money went to Democrats, according to the center, which ranks the union as the seventh-biggest "heavy hitter" on a list of the 100 biggest givers in federal politics.

Mr. Obama's relationship with organized labor, however, has been uneven.

He initially lent his support in recent fights with Republican governors over public-sector collective bargaining, but avoided plunging into the fray.

And while Mr. Obama has made many pro-union policy decisions and appointments, some union leaders remain disappointed that the White House didn't push harder for the "Employee Free Choice Act," a bill that would have made it easier for unions to organize.

All this could come into play in 2012. Nine states Mr. Obama won in 2008-home to more than a fifth of Electoral College votes and a third of the country's greenhouse-gas emissions from coal-fired power plants-replaced Democratic statewide officeholders with Republicans in 2010. Four of those states have Democratic senators facing reelection in 2012, including Ohio, which relies on coal for more than 80% of its electricity.

Greg Haas, a Democratic political strategist based in Columbus, and Jerry Austin, a Democratic political consultant based in Cleveland, say EPA regulations could determine which presidential candidate wins Ohio's critical electoral votes.

"Environmental issues aren't going to be the No. 1 issue on the table, but they're going to be a factor with enough voters that in a tight election, it can tip the scales." Mr. Haas said.

Mr. Haas said that while labor leaders would still support Democrats in next year's races, the EPA's actions could complicate the unions' efforts to generate enthusiasm and turnout among members.

In the House, senior Democrats on the chamber's Agriculture and Transportation committees recently endorsed legislation to block EPA regulation of greenhouse gases. In the Senate, a group of Democrats led by Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia has introduced legislation that would forbid the EPA for two years from regulating greenhouse gases from power plants, and other stationary sources.

Among those pushing the measure: Missouri's Claire McCaskill. Ms. McCaskill, a Democrat who is facing reelection next year, was among the senators who also complained in a joint letter last year about the EPA proposal to tighten the definition of unhealthy ozone levels.

"The people in my state want clean air and clean water, but farmers and businesses in our state don't want nonsensical regulations that harm their ability to make a living," Ms. McCaskill said in an interview.

The EPA has said tightening the standard would save thousands of lives and is "long overdue."

The pending EPA proposal to limit mercury emissions stems from a long-running struggle between public-health groups and America's coal industry. Coal-fired power plants aren't currently subject to federal controls on their mercury emissions. Each year, they emit about 48 tons of mercury, a toxic element.

Under President Bill Clinton, the EPA declared in 2000 that mercury emissions from power plants pose "significant hazards to public health" and must be reduced. During the George W. Bush administration, the EPA established a national cap for mercury emissions and permitted power plants running on coal or oil to purchase credits from less-polluting plants.

In 2008, a federal court said the EPA's approach violated a requirement of federal law that power plants be outfitted with the best available antipollution technology.

The EPA's Ms. Jackson, in response, began drafting a rule expected to give power plants three years to meet standards for mercury and other hazardous air pollutants. Owners would have to choose between buying new pollution equipment, switching to cleaner fuels or retiring the plant.

The EPA's supporters say the new regulation will level the playing field between companies that have invested in pollution controls and those that haven't. The agency and its supporters also predict the rule will create jobs.

"It will be the biggest public-health achievement of the Obama administration," says John Walke, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

But a report last September from bank Credit Suisse said the mercury rule, along with another regulation in the works targeting sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, could lead to the closure of nearly 18% of the nation's coal-fired generation capacity, mainly facilities more than 40 years old that lack emissions controls.

Unions, which have many members in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania, want the EPA to base the new standards on the performances of different coal types. Many coal plants in the eastern U.S. rely on bituminous coal, which when burned emits higher levels of acid gases than sub-bituminous coal, commonly found in western states. The unions' approach would mean a slower timetable for reducing emissions, a trade-off many environmentalists are reluctant to accept.

"We understand they have a legal obligation" to issue the rule, says Mr. Acuff, chief of staff of the utility-workers union. "But they also have an obligation to make sure that these regulations don't hurt the administration and workers."