Next week, the EPW Committee will hold two oversight hearings in room 406 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. In particular, Senator Inhofe looks forward to welcoming Norman City Manager Steven D. Lewis before the Committee on Wednesday.
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 http://www.epw.senate.gov/.
"OVERSIGHT HEARING ON PUBLIC HEALTH AND DRINKING WATER ISSUES"
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2011
- The Honorable Lisa Jackson, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
- Dr. Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., A.T.S., Director, National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences and National Toxicology Program
- Mr. Ken Cook, President, Environmental Working Group
- Ms. Carrie Lewis, Superintendent, Milwaukee Water Works
- Mr. Steven D. Lewis, City Manager, City of Norman
- Mr. Chuck Murray, General Manager, General Manager of Fairfax Water
- Dr. Thomas Burke, PhD, MPH, Professor, Associate Dean for Public Health Practice and Training, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
SUBCOMMITTEE ON SUPERFUND, TOXICS AND ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
"ASSESSING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF U.S. CHEMICAL SAFETY LAWS"
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2011
- The Honorable Steve Owens, Assistant Administrator, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
- Ms. Kelly M. Semrau, Senior Vice President for Global Corporate Affairs, Communication, and Sustainability, SC Johnson
- Mr. Steve Goldberg, Vice President and Associate General Counsel, BASF
- Ms. Frances Beinecke, President, Natural Resources Defense Council
- Mr. Cal Dooley, President, American Chemistry Council
- Dean Lynn Goldman, MD, MPH, Dean, George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services
Senators Boxer and Inhofe this week announced the EPW committee roster for the 112th Congress:
Chairman Barbara Boxer
Ranking Member James Inhofe
On January 26, Senator Inhofe, together with EPW Committee Chairman Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), discharged S. 188 - a bill introduced by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) to designate the new courthouse in Yuma, Arizona as the "John M. Roll United States Courthouse"-to the floor. Senator Inhofe made the following statement:
Shortly after the tragedy in Tucson, Senators McCain and Kyl's offices reached out to my Environment and Public Works Committee staff to discuss how they could honor Judge John Roll by naming the new courthouse that will be constructed in Yuma, Arizona after him.
Many of us have just come to know about the work of Judge Roll after the tragic shooting, when he died heroically while protecting Ron Barber, Congresswoman Gifford's district director, sacrificing himself.
But my office has known about Judge Roll's work on behalf of the judicial system in Arizona for some time. Judge Roll contacted my committee staff last year after a GAO report criticized the way Arizona was utilizing its courthouse space. As Judge Roll wrote to us, "[O]n behalf of the District of Arizona, I strongly disagree with many of the conclusions in the report, particularly as they relate to Arizona and its attempts to cope with an ever-burgeoning criminal caseload - largely arising from border enforcement." He hoped his response to the report would be helpful to us, and it was.
I believe that the decision to name the Yuma Arizona courthouse after Judge Roll is a fitting tribute to a man who served his state with distinction.
This courthouse is a new courthouse. It will help alleviate some of the overcrowding that is going on in Arizona right now.
Judge Roll was highly regarded by his colleagues and clearly took his job as Judge seriously. Doing more than simply deciding on cases and going home, he was an active advocate for the judicial system in Arizona. I believe that we would have had this courthouse named after him upon his retirement had his life not been tragically ended.
Senators McCain and Kyl introduced S. 188 today, and I am happy to announce that Senator Boxer and I have discharged S. 188 to the floor today as well. We couldn't imagine doing anything less.
Senator Inhofe made the following statement on January 24 in response to the announcement that Carol Browner will soon be leaving her position as Director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy.
"Carol Browner and I have long been on opposite sides of many issues," Senator Inhofe said. "I would say that I'm happy to see her leave only because she was so effective in advancing her side. Given her considerable knowledge and experience in navigating the bureaucracy, she will be irreplaceable. In the spirit of unity, I wish her all the best."
Inhofe says trimming highway bill will help appease GOP
Jason Plautz, E&E reporter
Amid calls for greater investment in infrastructure and a long-term renewal of the surface transportation reauthorization, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said the only way to sell a highway bill to his Republican colleagues would be to pare it back and cut waste.
Inhofe, ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said that anything that is not related to transportation needs to be cut from the bill. He said pet projects like Capitol dome repairs and recreational bike paths make up about 3 percent of the current bill -- an unacceptable number considering that it draws from the cash-strapped Highway Trust Fund.
Inhofe suggested at a full committee hearing on transportation investment that the legislation be taken back "to the way it was originally where we had the highway trust fund and people who paid to use our highways." He added, "Confine it to maintenance, construction, bridges, highways, then that would be sellable to the conservative members of the community. It's a hard thing to do, and I know there are a lot of people who disagree with me on this."
Inhofe did affirm his support for a robust bill -- adding that infrastructure investment was one of the few areas in which he supported government spending -- and said that Republicans, not Democrats, would probably be the ones who would hold it up.
The EPW Committee hearing, which was focused on the economic benefits of transportation investment, is the first in a series of hearings as the committee tries to construct a six-year bill to fund transportation projects. Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said she was already working on a replacement to the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act, the bill that expired in 2009 and has been continued with stopgap extensions that will run out in March.
"Not only does success in the transportation construction industry improve GDP, commerce in the U.S. benefits every day from transportation investments that shorten travel times, increase productivity, improve travel-time reliability and improve safety," Boxer said. "Failing to invest creates the disruptions that waste money, time and fuel and undermine our competitiveness."
The hearing came a day after President Obama called for more infrastructure investment, including a transportation bill, in his State of the Union address. Committee members applauded Obama's remarks, with Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) saying it was a sign that we were "arriving" at a solution for the United States' crumbling infrastructure.
The committee especially highlighted the economic benefits of investing in infrastructure. In an oft-repeated statistic, the Department of Transportation found that every $1 billion of federal money spent on transportation matched by state and local funds was enough to create or maintain almost 35,000 jobs. Witnesses said that would be good news for the construction industry, which has been hit with more than 20.7 percent unemployment, more than double the overall national rate.
"We believe that an investment in transportation infrastructure right now is the single most important public policy initiative that we can take by the federal government to re-energize the national economy," said Raymond Poupore, executive vice president of the National Construction Alliance, which includes unions for carpenters and operating engineers. "Dedicating precious resources immediately to transportation, even in this time of fiscal constraint, makes sense because ... it targets resources to the hardest hit area of the economy."
Susan Martinovich, president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, also affirmed the economic need for more investment, saying that federal money was crucial for states. When asked if states could adequately invest in transportation if Congress did not pass a long-term bill, Martinovich warned that she would not start any projects without knowing what happens past March.
Inhofe's comments about trimming the bill captured a good deal of attention at the hearing. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) shot back at Inhofe, saying the bill should fund more than just highways.
"Every dollar that we authorize has to be spent efficiently and appropriately for transportation in this country," Cardin said. "But let's not be afraid to take a look at alternative methods that save money, create jobs and then leave more dollars available for the expensive projects that we know we can build like high-speed rail."
Cardin is pushing for more public transportation and walking and biking projects to be funded through the bill, saying that sometimes roads are not the most efficient or environmentally friendly method of transportation.
However, a spokesman for Inhofe clarified that the senator did not oppose spending on transit or rail. Instead, he is looking to cut the roughly 3 percent in earmarks from the bill that fund non-transportation projects. Inhofe said those started when the highway trust fund was flush with profits, but declining revenue from the federal gas tax has left the trust fund insufficient for the sector's needs.
While Boxer bristled at the idea that bike paths were not responsible transportation spending, she said she was looking to cut waste from the bill and looked forward to working with Inhofe on it.
Bill evolving in the House
Meanwhile, Mica yesterday revealed details of the House version of the transportation bill, saying his office was working on a "major transportation rewrite" that would include a variety of financing tools.
"We're going to be dealing with less revenue, but we can make it go further if we have some good leveraging," Mica said.
He said the bill will have four tiers, starting with stabilizing the highway trust fund. Next, Mica said he would explore any appropriated money that has not been spent and find ways to move that along. Third, Mica would explore innovative financing techniques, including public-private partnerships and other federal loans. Finally, he said his bill would look at ways to reduce federal regulation and fast-track projects that could show immediate benefits.
Senator Inhofe posted a video message before President Obama's State of the Union Address Tuesday night saying that he hoped the President would address the flood of regulations coming from the EPA, which threaten jobs and job creation. Click here for the video.
Transcript of Inhofe Remarks
Hello, I am Senator Jim Inhofe, Republican Senator from Oklahoma.
Tonight, the President will be delivering his State of the Union Address, and he will speak about bringing the nation together. I applaud him for this effort. This is an important message, especially in the wake of the tragedy in Tucson. We continue to pray for the victims, and for the full and speedy recovery of Gabrielle Giffords.
The President will also focus on jobs, and various approaches to get Americans back to work. I hope the President addresses the flood of regulations coming from EPA - put simply, they threaten jobs and job creation.
The President could find common ground with Republicans if he pledges to bring those rules back into balance. Right now, they pose a dangerous threat to the competitiveness of manufacturers and small businesses, particularly in America's Heartland.
In just two years, the Obama Administration has put every institution that has made America great under attack: the military, health care, agriculture, the financial sector - all are feeling the brunt of the Administration's liberal agenda.
I will say here very clearly: if the President doesn't heed calls for change in his regulatory policies, then Congress will have to change them.
We will start with EPA's backdoor attempt to impose cap-and-trade taxes on consumers and employers. The President failed to pass this agenda in Congress - too many members understood its destructive costs and negligible benefits. Now he's using the EPA and the Clean Air Act to make it happen.
Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) once referred to EPA's global warming agenda as "a glorious mess." He was right. EPA regulation could cover 260,000 office buildings, 150,000 warehouses, 92,000 health-care facilities, 71,000 hotels and motels, 51,000 food-service facilities, 37,000 churches, and 17,000 farms. And what is the result? By EPA's estimates, global mean temperature would drop about one-hundredth of a degree by 2100.
The cost-benefit analysis here is fairly straightforward. And so is the answer to this glorious mess: repeal it.
By joining with Congress, the President would send a strong message to job creators that America is open for business again.
Of course global warming regulation is just the beginning. Beyond greenhouse gases, EPA is developing rules affecting manufacturing facilities, power plants, refineries, and cement kilns. These rules are admirable in their intent: to reduce harmful pollution. Yet despite EPA's assurance, EPA's solution is wildly out of balance, posing unacceptable costs with questionable benefits.
Let me give you an example: the so-called Boiler MACT rule, which covers thousands of industrial boilers across the country. The respected consulting firm IHS-Global Insight estimates that the rule puts up to 800,000 jobs at risk. The United Steel Workers says the proposal will "imperil the operating status of many industrial plants," putting "tens of thousands of jobs" at risk.
In fact, this rule is so badly written that 23 Republicans and 18 Democrats in the Senate wrote to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to voice their opposition. In the House, 106 members, including 45 Democrats, sent a similar letter.
EPA is also preparing the Utility MACT, covering power plants. Coal-fired power plants, and the thousands of people they employ, are especially at risk. According to a consultant to the United Mine Workers, 16 coal-fired plants in West Virginia, 38 in Ohio, 32 in Michigan, 24 in Indiana, 21 in Pennsylvania, and 21 in Wisconsin are, in his view, "at risk" of shutting down because of Utility MACT and other EPA rules.
Speaking of shutting down, EPA could soon require ozone levels that, in some areas, are lower than what occur naturally in the ambient air. EPA is relying on science that is nearly 6 years old, and appears to be ignoring recent studies undermining its position. If EPA continues on its current course, nearly 600 counties across the nation could be in "non-attainment."
In plain English, that means communities struggling to grow their economies will face new regulations, loss of industry and economic development, plant closures, and increased fuel and energy costs. If you don't believe me, ask Unions for Jobs and the Environment, an organization of 12 national and international labor unions, including the United Mine Workers, the Teamsters, and the Sheet Metal Workers. They say EPA's ozone rule will "lead to significant job losses across the country during a period of high unemployment."
The list of rules is long, so I won't delve into every one of them now. But the point here is simple. The President has an opportunity to follow through on his recent Executive Order covering regulations. Is he really serious about, as he wrote recently, "striking the right balance"? If he is, he should start with EPA, and work with Republicans to rein in an agency that poses serious harm to America's manufacturing base-and the hundreds of thousands of jobs it supports.
In the meantime, I will be working with my colleagues in the House to investigate these rules, to expose their impacts on jobs, energy prices, competitiveness, small businesses, and energy security. I also will examine whether EPA's assertions about public health and environmental benefits are credible.
It's time to get America back to work. The path forward must include restoring balance in the regulatory process. We will hold the President accountable in the coming months. We will see whether he's serious about jobs and enhancing American competitiveness. If left to its own devices, EPA will undermine both.
Senator Inhofe, together with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) issued the following statement on January 25 regarding a federal energy tax under the Clean Air Act:
"It is no secret that we believe the administration's proposed greenhouse gas regulatory regime poses a significant threat to job creation and economic recovery. President Obama has spoken in recent days about a balanced approach to regulation and our nation's energy future. We share a commitment to addressing both issues, which is why, in the coming weeks, we will outline a path forward to permanently eliminate the threat of greenhouse gas regulation through the Clean Air Act. This Congress has no intention of allowing the administration to regulate that which it has been unable to legislate. The cap-and-tax scheme was soundly rejected last year, and the Clean Air Act must not be used as a backdoor route to impose the same costly national energy tax."
The Wall Street Journal
Cap and Trade Returns From the Grave
The president's plans for "clean energy standards" amount to carbon controls by other means.
January 28, 2011
By Kimberley A. Strassel
Cap and trade is dead. Long live cap and trade.
The president presented his new, conciliatory face to the nation this week, and his State of the Union was as notable for what it didn't include as what it did. He uttered not one word about global warming, a comprehensive climate bill, or his regulatory attempts to reduce carbon. Combined with his decision to give the axe to controversial climate czar Carol Browner, political analysts took all this as further proof that Barack Obama was moving to the middle, making nice with Republicans.
Snort. Guffaw. Chortle.
Listen carefully to Mr. Obama's speech and you realize he spent plenty of it on carbon controls. He just used a different vocabulary. If the president can't get carbon restrictions via cap and trade, he'll get them instead with his new proposal for a "clean energy" standard. Clean energy, after all, sounds better to the public ear, and he might just be able to lure, or snooker, some Republicans into going along.
The official end of cap and trade, and Mrs. Browner, wasn't conciliation-it was necessity. The public now understands that cap and trade is an economy killer, and no small number of Democrats lost their seats in midterms for supporting it. Few in the party want to take it up again, and House Republicans won't let it pass. Mr. Obama would be crazy to continue calling for it.
Mrs. Browner, for her part, had become a political liability. As czar, she's had sweeping control over administration policy-all of it unaccountable. This worked under a Democratic Congress, but House Republicans had made clear they intended to call her to testify. This had the makings of an ugly fight over executive privilege and would have forced the White House to defend a lack of transparency. Better to let the lightning rod go.
But Mr. Obama has no intention of letting go of his carbon-free world. He instead went to plan B. Specifically, he called in his speech for the nation to "join" him in a "new goal: by 2035, 80% of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources." What the president was in essence calling for-in happier, fuzzier, broader language-is what policy wonks refer to as a "renewable portfolio standard." This is a government mandate requiring that utilities produce annually a specific amount of their electricity from renewable sources-wind, solar, biofuels.
It's also cap and trade by another name. Consider: The goal of cap and trade is to impose crushing taxes on fossil fuels-oil, coal, natural gas-thereby forcing utilities to switch to costly renewables. Under Mr. Obama's new proposal, the government skips the tax part and outright requires the use of costly renewables. The result is the same: dramatically higher energy prices, from carbon-free sources. Now you know why even climate warrior John Kerry was so sanguine about the president's failure to say "climate change" in his speech. "I'm very sympathetic," said the Massachusetts senator, who clearly got the strategy memo.
Many Republicans understand the situation. Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, chair of House Energy and Commerce, put out a statement following the speech that insisted "the answer is not to hyper-subsidize preferred industries or to force consumers and job creators to purchase energy they can't afford." Reached on the phone, Mr. Upton elaborated, telling me the president's remarks "smell like cap and trade all over again." He noted that 28 states already have their own renewable standards and so "why have a federal mandate?"
Then again, some Republicans-the self-styled energy progressives-have let it be known they'd be open to a new government diktat, if only the price is right. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has noodled with legislation to require an energy standard that includes nuclear energy (like that produced in his home state) along with renewables. Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar has floated what he calls a "diverse" energy standard that would mandate renewables, nuclear and . . . coal with carbon sequestration. (Indiana relies on coal.)
This is why Mr. Obama took care in his speech to refer broadly to a "clean energy" standard and make clear he was open to including in it "nuclear" and "clean coal"-along with renewables. He'll lure Republicans into negotiations, then cement their support with lavish energy pork for their home-state nuclear, clean-coal, wind, biofuels and solar projects. As a bonus, the plan gives cover to nervous coal state Democrats.
What the White House also knows-as do most sensible people-is that these promises mean little. The president has made grand nuclear gestures, but his regulators continue to sit on projects. Clean coal remains a pipe dream. Here's to betting that if and when the president's "clean energy" standard kicks in, the only mandated sources utilities have to choose from are wind, solar and biofuels.
The GOP has spent some long, sometimes uncomfortable, years explaining the perils of cap and trade. Yet they risk getting the same policy, all because they've yet to find the moxy to resist the "clean energy" drumbeat.