Friday, June 19, 2009

Despite Changes, Water Bill Faces Certain Demise in the Senate

Following the EPW business meeting yesterday, Senator Inhofe said that despite cosmetic changes made to the Clean Water Restoration Act, the bill faces certain demise if it ever reaches the Senate floor. 


“The superficial changes made to this bill don’t change its underlying intention and ultimate effect: to radically expand federal power over farms, ranches, and private property,” Senator Inhofe said following the business meeting.  “We heard plenty of  talk about a grand compromise to address concerns from rural America.  Yet in the end, the revised bill, which passed on a party-line vote, still lacks support from a large swath of rural stakeholders.


“I am pleased to support Senator Crapo’s hold on the bill.  On the very outside chance this bill ever actually reaches the Senate floor, I will work closely with Senator Crapo and others to defeat it and ensure that we protect private property owners, farmers, ranchers, and all those affected by the bill’s regulatory overreach. 


“This bill is further proof that Washington doesn’t ’get’ rural America.  The Democrats are moving a bill  that  amounts to the biggest bureaucratic power grab in a generation--and it’s directed right at America's heartland. In fact, this bill is a significant part of a hostile agenda—whether it’s new energy taxes from cap-and-trade or more unfunded mandates from Washington—aimed squarely at rural America.” 

Crapo Fights to Keep Water Rights, Places Hold on Bill Expanding Federal Control of Water

Concerned about significant expansions in the power of the federal government, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo voted yesterday against S. 787, the Clean Water Restoration Act. Crapo, a member of the Senate EPW Committee, also placed a “hold” on the bill, signaling his readiness to filibuster the bill if necessary.


This bill threatens the current Clean Water Act statute and would allow for government regulation of virtually all interstate and intrastate waters and their tributaries, including rivers, intermittent streams, mudflats, sandflats, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, natural ponds and others,” said Crapo.  “It also would grant federal regulators new and expanded authority over activities affecting these waters, which has serious implications for commerce.  I intend to use every tool and privilege afforded to slow or stop this ill-conceived attack on Idaho’s sovereignty over managing its water.”


S. 787 would eliminate the term “navigable” from the current Clean Water Act and substitute it with “waters of the United States.”  Crapo continued, “By so doing, the Act goes beyond restoring the regulatory environment that existed before the Rapanos and SWANCC decisions.  In fact, it expands the scope of the Act by changing the standard for triggering federal jurisdiction.  I have grave reservations about fundamentally altering the intent and scope of the Clean Water Act, and I look forward to opposing this bill if it ever makes it to the floor of United States Senate.”  Crapo was joined by his six Republican colleagues on the Committee in voting against this legislation. 


An audio file of Crapo’s comments during yesterday's hearing can be found on his website at or video from the hearing can be seen on his YouTube site at

YouTube: Inhofe Warns of "Biggest Bureaucratic Power Grab in a Generation"

In a YouTube video this week, Senator Inhofe warned that passage of the Clean Water Restoration Act (S. 787) will have huge implications on rural America. In the video, Senator Inhofe calls the bill the “biggest bureaucratic power grab in a generation.” The bill, sponsored by Senator Feingold, seeks to “extend the scope and reach of federal water jurisdiction beyond anything that ever existed under the Clean Water Act.”

Link to Inhofe YouTube Video

Inhofe Op-Ed: All Economic Pain, No Climate Gain

The Hill

Democrats’ Cap and Tax Rush Job: All Economic Pain, No Climate Gain

By Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.)

June 16, 2009

Link To Op-Ed 

The Obama administration and the Democratic leadership are attempting to push through global warming cap-and-trade legislation as quickly as possible, and for good reason: The more the public learns about what is in the bill, the more likely they are to oppose it.

The Waxman-Markey bill is the latest incarnation of costly cap-and-trade legislation that will have a devastating impact on the economy, cost millions of American jobs, push jobs overseas and drastically increase the size and scope of the federal government. Or, as a recent Washington Post editorial put it, the bill “contains regulations on everything from light bulb standards to the specs on hot tubs, and it will reshape America’s economy in dozens of ways that many don’t realize …”

Of the analyses conducted thus far on Waxman-Markey, the numbers are similar to what we have witnessed before in the way of higher energy prices at the pump and higher electricity prices in our homes, as well as deep cuts in our GDP. In a recent study conducted for the National Black Chamber of Commerce, CRA International found that Waxman-Markey will destroy 2.3 to 2.7 million jobs in each year of the policy through 2030, increase electricity rates by 45 percent, and impose a gas tax of nearly 60 cents.

There is also little question that Waxman-Markey will hinder U.S. competitiveness, pushing American jobs overseas where environmental regulations are much more lenient. Consider, for example, that developing nations such as China and India have little interest in a self-imposed tax on their economies. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, a favorite of the left, recently pointed out that, over the past 10 years, China doubled its emissions and said the trend will continue.

“In January, China announced that it plans to continue its reliance on coal as its main energy source and that to feed its economic growth it will increase coal production 30 percent by 2015,” Krugman wrote. “That’s a decision that, all by itself, will swamp any emission reductions elsewhere.” In other words, even if the United States passed a mandate to reduce carbon emissions, which would impose a high cost to consumers and our economy, the result would be all economic pain and no climate gain.

Next, consider that regardless of whatever comes out of the House, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Senate Democratic leaders are already vowing to write an even costlier bill. In an interview with Politico last week, Sen. Boxer said, “You might see a little bit of a stronger bill come out of our committee,” and, “You’ll see some refinements and changes and tweaks.”

Just what these “refinements and changes and tweaks” amount to is anyone’s guess, because this year Sen. Boxer has failed to hold a single legislative hearing on climate change.

Now for the good news: I have been battling global warming alarmism since 2003, when I became chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. It has been a lonely battle at times, but it now appears that many of my colleagues are waking up to the reality of cap-and-trade legislation. In 2003, only a few of my colleagues joined with me in speaking out against McCain-Lieberman. Then in 2005 a few more joined me and in 2008 an overwhelming number of senators took to the Senate floor to stand up against what would have been the largest tax increase in American history.

Now, just a year later and with the economy in a deep recession, it is hard to believe that many more senators would dare vote in favor of legislation that would not only increase the price of gas at the pump, but cost millions of American jobs, create a huge new bureaucracy and raise taxes by record amounts.

Further, outside of the Beltway, momentum is also growing on the left against cap-and-trade legislation. For example, global warming alarmist James Hansen, in rather blunt remarks, said, “Cap-and-trade is the temple of doom. It would lock in disasters for our children and grandchildren. Why do people continue to worship a disastrous approach? Its fecklessness was proven by the Kyoto Protocol.”

Another icon on the left, Ralph Nader, put his opposition this way: “I’m really astonished, because I would have thought they would have gone for a carbon tax. I mean, it’s [cap-and-trade] not going to work. It’s too complex. It’s too easily manipulated politically.”

Instead of passing job-killing government mandates, we should rally around a comprehensive energy policy that encourages development of all domestic sources of energy — a policy that will strengthen America’s energy security and grow our economy. That policy should include wind, solar, and geothermal, but it should also include natural gas, clean coal and nuclear power. This offers a clear path forward to America’s energy future, where we can harness the power of new technology and innovation to create jobs and restore America’s economic leadership throughout the world.

Inhofe is the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.   

Inhofe Comments on New Government Global Warming Study

Earlier this week Senator Inhofe commented on the climate change study released by the Obama Administration.


“That the federal bureaucracy in Washington has produced yet another alarmist report on global warming is nothing new,” Sen. Inhofe said.  It’s also no surprise that such a report was released just in time for the House vote on Waxman-Markey.  What’s clear is that despite millions of dollars spent on alarmist advertising, the American public remains rightly skeptical of the so-called ‘consensus’ on global warming.  

“I would suggest that, given a little time, the world’s preeminent scientists will quickly and thoroughly debunk this study.   As has been clearly demonstrated by the Senate Minority report of over 700 scientists questioning global warming hysteria, the debate on the science remains wide open.”

Agricultural Groups Oppose Waxman-Markey Bill

With news Monday of the left-of-center National Farmers Union opposing the Waxman-Markey bill, it’s clear that America’s farmers, to say the least, are growing skeptical of cap-and-trade.  To illuminate concerns from the agricultural community, EPW Policy Beat returned to the 2,000-plus pages of responses from agriculture groups to a questionnaire from the House Agriculture Committee on climate change policy.  As we noted last week, a perusal through the reams of comments demonstrates pervasive unease and outright opposition among America’s farmers to cap-and-trade and other forms of carbon regulation. 

Below is an excerpt from the Dairy Farmers of America, who, in their comments, delineate specific criteria for sound climate policy—e.g., that developing nations adopt “equally significant reductions” as the U.S. and that climate legislation pass a cost-benefit test.  As they make plain, the DFA are skeptical of whether cap-and-trade of the Waxman-Markey variety can meet their climate criteria:   

“At this time, Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. (DFA) is reluctant to embrace any type of climate change legislation without a better understanding of its impact on the entire U.S. economy and specifically, the dairy industry.  Should the U.S. enter into a system where it effectively reduces its greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions in the aggregate, it must also work to ensure that other industrialized nations agree to similar terms and developing nations adopt equally significant reductions.  The U.S. needs to ensure that the costs of any climate change legislation do not exceed the benefits, that new regulations are based on sound science and that the global burden is fairly distributed.

“We are especially cautious of mandatory GHG measures without a more complete and thorough understanding by all the major affected U.S. parties as to what these changes would mean for their incomes, businesses, livelihoods and ways of life.  This is especially the case given the depths and extent of the nation’s current economic crisis whose negative effects are all too immediate and from which we have yet to see an end…

“DFA is also concerned about the ramifications of a cap-and-trade system on the entire, currently fragile U.S. economy, even though a carbon offset program might offer some incentives for dairy farmers to continue to pursue innovations and gain the market benefits as a result.”

Link to House Ag Questionnaire

In the News . . . Inhofe Predicts Success in Stopping Cap & Trade and Clean Water Restoration Bills

Oklahoma Farm Report

Senator Jim Inhofe Predicts Success in Stopping Cap & Trade and Clean Water Restoration Bills on the Floor of the Senate

June 18,  2009

Link to Oklahoma Farm Report 

Senator Jim Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, believes that two of the most dangerous pieces of environmental legislation when it comes to their impact on farmers and ranchers may find initial success- but he expressed confidence to us on Wednesday afternoon that the environmental activists who are promoting S 787 and HR 2454 can and will be stopped short of success on the floor of the US Senate.

Senate bill 787 is the Clean Water Restoration Act, and would give the Environmental Protection Agency vastly greater powers than they currently have in overseeing any body of water, no matter how tiny, if this bill becomes law. the key word that is removed from current regulations in this measure is the word "navigable" and with that word out of their way, the EPA could exercise huge control over every farm and ranch in the United States. Senator Inhofe says the Environment and Public Works Committee, of which he is the current ranking Minority member, will pass the measure out on Thursday when it is marked up under the direction of California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, who serves as the Chairman of that Committee. The Senior Senator from Oklahoma is convinced that once it leaves Committee, enough Democrats will back away from this measure and allow it to fail to advance on the Senate floor.

On HR 2454, Senator Inhofe says that rural lawmakers, led by House Ag Committee leaders Collin Peterson, the Chair of that Committee, along with Ranking Republican Frank Lucas of Oklahoma appear to have the votes to slow down if not defeat the intentions of Speaker Nancy Pelosi to force it to a quick vote before the end of this month. HR 2454 is better known as the Climate Change or Cap and Trade bill, was the subject of that seven hour hearing last week in the House Ag Committee. Senator Inhofe seems even more certain that the Democrats are far short of enough votes to move this measure forward, as he claims they have currently only 34 Senate votes that would go along with the extreme bill that passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee early in the month.

We talked with Senator Inhofe about both of these bills- and our conversation is linked on the listen bar below- click and hear what the Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe is thinking on both of these measures.

In the News . . . Fracturing Plan Wrong, Indefensible

The Oklahoman Editorial


Power play: Fracturing Plan Wrong, Indefensible


June 15, 2009



Link To Editorial


Uncle Sam has grabbed control of much of the auto industry and financial sector. Why not oil and gas regulation as well?


Dramatic increases in federal control of the private sector and in regulation are becoming hallmarks of the Obama era. The latest power grab is an attempt to switch regulation of hydraulic fracturing from the states to the Environmental Protection Agency.


This is what we in the opinion trade call a "DBI” issue — dull but important. Fracturing isn’t a topic at the top of the minds of most folks, but it resides there for energy professionals, regulators and trade groups.


Fracturing involves the injection of chemicals and water into wells to increase production. Some believe the technique poses harm to drinking water supplies. U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, D-Muskogee, disagrees and says the regulatory shift would be "disastrous for the industry.”


The Oklahoma City-based Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission says states "do a superb job” of protecting the environment from threats posed by oil and gas exploration and production. It says the shift to the EPA is unnecessary and threatens energy production.


Fracturing has been around for 50 years. Boren said the evidence from using the technique thousands of times for half a century doesn’t indicate a problem with drinking water contamination. Legislation has been introduced in Congress to require companies to disclose the chemicals used in the process and allow the EPA to ensure compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act.


This is a solution in search of a problem.

Opening Statement: Hearing on New Orleans Flood Protection and Coastal Restoration

On Tuesday, Senator Inhofe submitted the following statement for the EPW Hearing on "New Orleans Hurricane and Flood Protection and Coastal Louisiana Restoration":

Thank you, Madam Chairman, for holding this hearing, and thank you to all the witnesses for agreeing to discuss these important issues with us today.  I would also like to commend Senator Vitter for his tireless efforts on behalf of the people of Louisiana, particularly on issues related to the Corps of Engineers.  EPW has not held a hearing dedicated to these Louisiana issues since a field hearing in February 2007.  Both this hearing and that field hearing were prompted by Senator Vitter.  He has worked very diligently to educate his colleagues here in the Senate on the importance of taking action, as well as on the details of what Congress needs to do to ensure proper protection for his State.

The issues surrounding how to provide hurricane and flood protection for New Orleans as well as appropriate coastal restoration activities are numerous and complex.  The projects themselves are also very expensive.  Oversight hearings like this one are an important step in ensuring that these things get done right.  The people of Louisiana are counting on it for their very existence and way of life.  The American taxpayers are counting on knowing that their tax dollars are being spent wisely, and not wasted on things that won’t work technically or that won’t provide all the benefits promised as justification for the costs.

This Committee previously has held several hearings establishing the reasoning for a federal role in coastal restoration activities in southern Louisiana.  Unlike the situation with the Florida Everglades in 2000, the fact that we had a Chief’s Report for this project meant that I was able to support the authorization included in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007.  Since a federal role is no longer in question, I hope our witnesses will focus more on the details of this effort.  As the Committee of jurisdiction, we need to hear specifics about what is proceeding well and what the challenges and obstacles are.  We need to hear if Congressional action is needed to better focus or prioritize the Corps’ activities in this area.  My opinion is that the Everglades restoration effort is not going particularly well, and I hope we can avoid similar mistakes in coastal Louisiana restoration.

My understanding on the pump to the river issue is that we are basically discussing two options for reducing or preventing flooding in New Orleans.  The first option, the one that is currently authorized and the Corps is constructing, combines the existing interior drainage system with the ability to pump water from the city’s three outfall canals to Lake Pontchartrain.  Previous reports from the Corps tell us that this component within the larger system being constructed will provide a 100-year level of protection for the city. 

The second option would also contribute to providing a 100-year level of protection, but it involves redesigning the interior drainage system to eliminate the need for interior pumps on the outfall canals, instead relying on pumping water just at the lakefront or in combination with pumping to the Mississippi River.  Preliminary estimates indicate that this option may be significantly more expensive and complex to construct.  Operationally, however, it may be more reliable than the first option.

I look forward to the discussion with the witnesses of the pros, cons and tradeoffs of each option, and I again thank Senator Vitter for prompting this hearing.