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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Inhofe in

ICYMI:  Last week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) release its final “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule. Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), has been an out spoken opponent of the rule.


The Tulsa World commended the chairman in an editorial today saying that “Sen. Jim Inhofe has sworn to roll back the EPA overreach with legislation… Nobody favors water pollution. But nobody wants federal bureaucrats running amok, regulating American farms into bankruptcy. If this huge new extension of EPA authority is needed, it should be passed into law through the normal legislative process with debate and evidence, and not interpreted into existence by bureaucratic fiat."


Today, Sen. Inhofe had an opinion piece published in further explaining his position on the WOTUS rule.



Why every property owner should fear the EPA’s “Waters of the United States” rule

By Sen. Jim Inhofe

June 2, 2015, click here to read online



The Environmental Protection Agency released its final rule last week defining “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), a measure that hugely expands the ability of this aggressive agency to disregard the conservation efforts of American states and interfere with the daily lives and property  of the American people. 


Not only does this final rule break promises EPA has made, but it claims federal powers even beyond what EPA originally proposed a year ago.  This will drastically affect—for the worse-- the ability of many Americans to use and enjoy their property.


EPA claims that it now has the right to regulate any water in a 100-year floodplain of a navigable water, any water that is 4,000 feet from a tributary, and any prairie pothole, pool or wetland that EPA has declared a “regional water treasure,” if it can identify a “significant nexus” with a navigable water. 


EPA defines “significant nexus” so broadly that this test can be met in almost every instance.  If EPA shows that a pond or wetland holds water – EPA can regulate it.  If EPA shows that a pond or wetland seeps into the ground to an aquifer that feeds a stream or river miles away – EPA can regulate it. And, if EPA can show that a pond or wetland provides “life cycle dependent aquatic habitat for a species” that spends part of its time in a navigable water - EPA can regulate it.  The “water” that EPA can regulate does not even have to be wet.  It is also defined by “chemical, physical, and biological indicators.”


This will drastically affect—for the worse-- the ability of many Americans to use and enjoy their property.


This power grab defies the 2001 limits placed on EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by the Supreme Court, which ruled that the mere fact a pond is used by “approximately 121 bird species…, including several known to depend upon aquatic environments for a significant portion of their life requirements” does not create federal jurisdiction. 


This also is a radical departure from the kind of public-private conservation efforts that have been a great American contribution to environmentalism.  For example, the U.S.  Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledges that prairie “potholes”—marshy glacial depressions located primarily in the northern Mid-West-- are not federally regulated, so the agency works with farmers throughout the region on cooperative conservation measures. But under the EPA’s new final rule, federal regulators can throw cooperation out the window and simply tell farmers when and where they can farm. 


The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has conducted five hearings on EPA’s WOTUS rule.  In a February hearing, both EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Assistant Secretary for the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy admitted the proposed WOTUS rule was flawed, inconsistent, and ambiguous and promised to fix it.


Some fix.  Many of those promises were simply abandoned.  For example,Administrator McCarthy told the National Farmers’ Union that irrigation ditches were of no interest to the agency.  But, because irrigation water is not “ephemeral” or “intermittent”—just about the only terms limiting the new scope of federal water regulation over ditches—it is  now vulnerable to EPA regulation.


EPA also promised to clarify an important distinction between regulated tributaries of navigable water and exempt water-induced erosion features.   Erosion channels are created when it rains.  But, according to EPA, the term tributary also includes streams that hold water only when it rains. 


The final rule does not provide a clear way to distinguish the two.  Instead, EPA continues to use the nebulous wording of “bed, bank, and ordinary high water mark” to define a tributary.  This is a very subjective test.  In a May hearing, we learned that EPA brought a criminal action against a landowner claiming that the ordinary high water mark that defines the width of a stream is based on flooding, not ordinary stream flows.  In 2014, the United States District Court for the Central District of California found in favor of the landowner, but the Technical Support Document for the final rule relies on the same Corps guidance that EPA used to prosecute that case. 


In other words, EPA is not even listening to what the courts have already told them about reining in its arbitrary grab for authority.  

The EPA  final rule in fact further confuses the definition of a tributary by asserting that EPA and the Corps can identify them by using remote sensing technology, even though the Corps’ own internal  guidance says this is not appropriate and the U.S. Geological Survey warns that some of these tools will find channels everywhere, most of which will be erosion features, not waterways.  


With respect to promises to address ponds, ditches, and stormwater and wastewater management systems in the final rule, what the agencies give with one hand, they can take with the other.  The final rule exemptions for these features are limited to those created on “dry land.”  However, the agencies declined to define “dry land” and will decide what that means during implementation – creating significant uncertainty, particularly for water management features that were built long ago.


The huge expansion in federal authority under the final rule means that it is more important than ever for Congress to act.  Last month, a bipartisan group of Senators unveiled S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, to rein in EPA’s attempt to use the Clean Water Act to expand federal control while protecting those waters that need to be protected to keep pollution from reaching traditional navigable waters. 


I intend to move S. 1140 through the EPW Committee as soon as possible this summer.  I will not allow EPA to advance its agenda on controlling private lands, and will work with my colleagues for a veto proof majority in support of this legislation. 


Americans also need to make their voices heard, if they want to maintain their right to control their fields, farms, and ranches-- and possibly their back yards.


Republican James "Jim" Inhofe represents Oklahoma in the United States Senate. He is chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Daily Caller: NY Fracking Study Used Research By EPA Official Who Touted 'Roman Crucifixion'

ICYMI: Earlier this year, Department of Interior Sec. Sally Jewell spoke on New York’s local and state bans on hydraulic fracturing saying that they came as a result of inconclusive and unsound science. “I think that localized efforts or state-wide efforts in many cases don’t understand the science behind [fracking], and I think there needs to be more science,” Jewell said. Today, the Daily Caller vindicated Jewell’s statement, reporting that the study used by  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to defend bans on hydraulic fracturing relied on “research from ‘fringe activists who helped hasten the [fracking] ban in New York,’ according to a report by Energy in Depth.”

Daily Caller: NY Fracking Study Used Research By EPA Official Who Touted ‘Roman Crucifixion’


By Michael Bastasch, May 19, 2015

Click Here to Read Online


The New York state study on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, relied on research from a former Environmental Protection Agency official who compared enforcing environmental regulations to “Roman crucifixions.”

Former EPA Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz may have resigned from the Obama administration in 2012, but his research was included in the Cuomo administration’s environmental study on fracking.

The Cuomo administration released its final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) on fracking earlier this month. The SGEIS included findings made last year by the state Department of Health that fracking shouldn’t be allowed in New York.

Interestingly enough, the final SGEIS’s bibliography included a citation for a 2009 study conducted by Armendariz on behalf of the Environmental Defense Fund, an environmental group.

The study was published in January 2009, while Armendariz worked at Southern Methodist University, only eight months before being appointed to head up EPA’s region 6 — which covers the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas as well as 66 American Indian tribes.

Armendariz’s study is titled “Emissions from Natural Gas Production in the Barnett Shale Area and Opportunities for Cost-Effective Improvementsand details what regulations can be put in place to curb methane emissions from shale gas development.

Armendariz was appointed by President Barack Obama in November 2009 to head up the EPA’s region 6 office in Dallas, Texas. The Huffington Post reports that his nomination was backed by Texas-based environmental groups. Indeed, the Houston Chronicle called Armendariz “the most feared environmentalist in the state.”

But it wasn’t long before the “feared” environmentalism became embroiled in scandal. In 2012, Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe released video footage of a speech Armendariz gave in 2010, just after joining the EPA, where he compared enforcing environmental laws to how the Romans used to “crucify” people in Mediterranean villages.

“The Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean,” Armendariz said in the video. “They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”

“And so you make examples out of people who are in this case not compliant with the law,” he said. “Find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there. And, companies that are smart see that, they don’t want to play that game, and they decide at that point that it’s time to clean up.”

“And, that won’t happen unless you have somebody out there making examples of people,” Armendariz added. “So you go out, you look at an industry, you find people violating the law, you go aggressively after them. And we do have some pretty effective enforcement tools. Compliance can get very high, very, very quickly.”

While leading the EPA’s efforts in the South Central U.S., Armendariz was criticized for making accusations against the drilling company Range Resources that it was contaminating drinking water. Armendariz even issued an emergency order against Range for allegedly contaminating water sources in Parker County, Texas.

But Armendariz was wrong and the EPA never found any evidence of drinking water contamination in Parker County. The EPA eventually withdrew its emergency order and a federal court threw the case out.

Armendariz now works for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign — the Club is largely opposed to coal power as well as hydraulic fracturing.

The Cuomo administration’s fracking study has already come under criticism for relying on research from “fringe activists who helped hasten the [fracking] ban in New York,” according to a report by the petroleum industry-backed group Energy In Depth.

EID notes the Health Department’s 184-page report relied on “reports that were financed and produced almost entirely by professional opposition groups.” One paper, for example, was authored by researchers with explicit ties to environmental groups. All three peer-reviewers of the study “failed to disclose their personal opposition to shale development,” according to EID.

Cuomo’s office did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Critics Hear EPA's Voice in 'Public Comments'

New York Times: Critics Hear EPA’s Voice in ‘Public Comments’

By Eric Lipton and Coral Davenport, May 18, 2015

Click Here to Read Online



WASHINGTON — When the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a major new rule intended to protect the nation’s drinking water last year, regulators solicited opinions from the public. The purpose of the “public comment” period was to objectively gauge Americans’ sentiment before changing a policy that could profoundly affect their lives.

Gina McCarthy, the agency’s administrator, told a Senate committee in March that the agency had received more than one million comments, and nearly 90 percent favored the agency’s proposal. Ms. McCarthy is expected to cite those comments to justify the final rule, which the agency plans to unveil this week.

But critics say there is a reason for the overwhelming result: The E.P.A. had a hand in manufacturing it.

In a campaign that tests the limits of federal lobbying law, the agency orchestrated a drive to counter political opposition from Republicans and enlist public support in concert with liberal environmental groups and a grass-roots organization aligned with President Obama.

The Obama administration is the first to give the E.P.A. a mandate to create broad public outreach campaigns, using the tactics of elections, in support of federal environmental regulations before they are final.

The E.P.A.’s campaign highlights the tension between exploiting emerging technologies while trying to abide by laws written for another age.

Federal law permits the president and political appointees, like the E.P.A. administrator, to promote government policy, or to support or oppose pending legislation.

But the Justice Department, in a series of legal opinions going back nearly three decades, has told federal agencies that they should not engage in substantial “grass-roots” lobbying, defined as “communications by executive officials directed to members of the public at large, or particular segments of the general public, intended to persuade them in turn to communicate with their elected representatives on some issue of concern to the executive.”

Late last year, the E.P.A. sponsored a drive on Facebook and Twitter to promote its proposed clean water rule in conjunction with the Sierra Club. At the same time, Organizing for Action, a grass-roots group with deep ties to Mr. Obama, was also pushing the rule. They urged the public to flood the agency with positive comments to counter opposition from farming and industry groups.

The results were then offered as proof that the proposal was popular.

“We have received over one million comments, and 87.1 percent of those comments we have counted so far — we are only missing 4,000 — are supportive of this rule,” Ms. McCarthy told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in March. “Let me repeat: 87.1 percent of those one-plus million are supportive of this rule.”

But critics said environmental groups had inappropriately influenced the campaign — just as environmentalists complained that the energy industry improperly drove policy during the George W. Bush administration.

At minimum, the actions of the agency are highly unusual. “The agency is supposed to be more of an honest broker, not a partisan advocate in this process,” said Jeffrey W. Lubbers, a professor of practice in administrative law at the American University Washington College of Law and the author of the book “A Guide to Federal Agency Rulemaking.”

“I have not seen before from a federal agency this stark of an effort to generate endorsements of a proposal during the open comment period,” he said.

Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma and chairman of the environment committee, is holding a hearing on Tuesday to examine the proposed rule. “There is clear collusion between extreme environmental groups and the Obama administration in both developing and promoting a host of new regulations,” he said.

The most contentious part of the E.P.A.’s campaign was deploying Thunderclap, a social media tool that spread the agency’s message to hundreds of thousands of people — a “virtual flash mob,” in the words ofTravis Loop, the head of communications for E.P.A.’s water division.

The architect of the E.P.A.’s new public outreach strategy is Thomas Reynolds, a former Obama campaign aide who was appointed in 2013 as an associate administrator. “We are just borrowing new methods that have proven themselves as being effective,” he said.

But industry critics said the agency’s actions might be violating federal lobbying laws.

The proposed rule tries to ensure the safety of drinking water by expanding or at least clarifying the federal government’s jurisdiction to prevent the pollution of wetlands and streams that feed water sources.

The E.P.A.’s tactics in supporting the rule are clearly designed to move public opinion, at a time when Congress was considering legislation to block the agency from putting the rule into effect.

“The agency has relentlessly campaigned for the rule with tweets and blogs, not informing the public about the rule but influencing the public to advocate for the rule,” said Ellen Steen, general counsel at the American Farm Bureau Federation. “That is exactly what the Anti-Lobbying Act is meant to prevent.”

The strategy to build public support for the clean water rule builds on the agency’s promotion of its climate change policy. The White House hired Mr. Reynolds, a seasoned political operative, to run the climate change outreach effort after he directed regional media operations for the president’s 2012 re-election.

He set off what he called a “flood-the-zone approach” to push back against opponents of the E.P.A.’s climate rule in the Republican Party and the coal industry, injecting the digital savvy of Mr. Obama’s presidential campaigns into the agency’s effort. “There is a huge premium on social media,” Mr. Reynolds said. “Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest.”

Jeffrey R. Holmstead, an energy industry lobbyist and an E.P.A. deputy in the Bush administration, said the E.P.A. was “using campaign and advocacy strategies to promote a regulatory action.” But he and other experts said the agency’s actions did not appear to cross a legal line.

Obama administration officials insist they had to counter industry opponents to the climate change and water rules who were engaged in their own campaign to undermine them.

“The fact that there’s a very well-funded campaign means we needed a strong and sustained communications effort,” said Heather Zichal, Mr. Obama’s former senior climate adviser.

In March last year, when the E.P.A. proposed the clean water regulation, opponents hit back fast. The American Farm Bureau kicked off a public relations effort summarized by its Twitter nickname: Ditch the Rule.

The Farm Bureau was supported by home builders, the fertilizer and pesticide industries, oil and gas producers and a national association of golf course owners who collectively called for the E.P.A. to revamp or withdraw its proposal. That demand was echoed by more than 230 members of the House.

As the opposition mounted, leaders of major environmental groups held closed-door meetings with senior E.P.A. officials as the rule was being written, participants in these meetings said. 

Mr. Reynolds doubled down on a social media campaign to defend the water rule.

The agency created its own Twitter hashtag,#DitchtheMyth, which Ms. McCarthy publicized, backed up with YouTube videos and Facebook postings that countered the criticism. But the campaign also specifically urged support for the effort — directing the public to the E.P.A. website, where the rule was explained and a prominent tab invited readers to leave a comment. Mr. Reynolds insisted that the agency specifically did not urge the public to contact Congress.

Organizing for Action also urged members to get involved, a message that the E.P.A. reinforced. Major environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, became “thunderous supporters” of the effort.

The Thunderclap effort was promoted in advance with the E.P.A. issuing a news release and other promotional material, including a photograph of a young boy drinking a glass of water.

“Clean water is important to me,” the message said. “I want E.P.A. to protect it for my health, my family and my community.”

In the end, the message was sent to an estimated 1.8 million people, Thunderclap said.

In a separate appeal, Mr. Loop, of the E.P.A., wrote a blog post on the agency’s website with pictures of himself, his two children and his dog swimming in waters near his Maryland home, and ending with a pitch.

He urged anyone reading the post to “spread the word about how much it matters to you and your family and friends.”

“Here is an easy way to do that,” he wrote. “Take a photo holding this #CleanWaterRules sign. Post it to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with #CleanWaterRules and give your reason. Encourage family and friends to do the same.”

Those efforts to prompt people to support the rule are now being cited as evidence that the E.P.A. has illegally engaged in so-called grass-roots lobbying.

“E.P.A. Office of Water’s Twitter account has essentially become a lobbyist for the proposal,” wrote Kevin P. Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, in a letter to the E.P.A. protesting the role the agency has played in advocating its clean water proposal.

Gov. Dennis M. Daugaard of South Dakota and some members of Congress have filed protests using almost exactly the same language, suggesting that the industry players are coordinating their response.

In its previous opinions to federal agencies, the Justice Department has indicated that “grass-roots” efforts are most clearly prohibited  if they are related to legislation pending in Congress and are “substantial,” which it defined as costing about $100,000 in today’s dollars — a price tag that the E.P.A.’s efforts on the clean water rule almost certainly did not reach if the salaries of the agency staff members involved are not counted.

Officials at the E.P.A. strongly defend their work — insisting that they did not violate the Anti-Lobbying Law because they never explicitly urged the public to lobby Congress, just to express their support for the plan in a public way.

“We are well within our authority to educate the American people about the importance of what E.P.A. is doing to act on climate change and protect public health,” Mr. Reynolds said. “There is a very clear line, and we never, ever cross it.”

Correction: May 18, 2015 Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated the stance of the coal industry on a clean water rule. It did not oppose the rule.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Washington Post: Our Toxic Status Quo Doesn't Protect Us

Washington Post: Our Toxic Status Quo Doesn’t Protect Us

By Ruth Marcus, May 1, 2015, Click here to read online


Today’s topic is toxic substances and the appalling gaps in the current law that is supposed to protect the public from dangerous chemicals.

For example, before a new chemical enters the market, the manufacturer must demonstrate its safety and the substance must win approval from federal regulators, right?

Not even close.

When it comes to new medications, the Food and Drug Administration conducts a rigorous review. Same for pesticides and the Environmental Protection Agency. But chemicals — even chemicals used in everyday household products — are presumed safe until proven otherwise. Companies don’t even have to test chemicals before using them in consumer products.

Not only that: The EPA, which is responsible for overseeing chemical safety, is all but toothless even when serious questions are raised about substances already in use. If you think this is hyperbole, consider the example of asbestos, classified as a “known human carcinogen.” It’s banned, right?


In 1989, after studying the issue for 10 years and concluding that asbestos posed “an unreasonable risk to human health,” the EPA moved to prohibit most products that contain asbestos. Two years later, it was shot down by a federal appeals court, which concluded that the agency had overstepped its authority.

Since then, the EPA has not proposed regulating a single additional toxic substance. Not a single one, despite the emerging evidence that an alphabet soup of chemical substances — BPA in plastic baby bottles, PFCs in nonstick surfaces for pans, PBDEs in flame retardants for furniture — collect in the human body and are linked to health problems, particularly in children.

The fundamental difficulty, and the reason I’m writing about this topic today, is the ineffectiveness of a 1976 law, the Toxic Substances Control Act, that was supposed to regulate such materials. When the law was passed, some 60,000 chemicals were listed as being in use in household or industrial products. Since then, the EPA has only been able to require testing on just over 200; only five have been banned or even restricted.

When the toxic substances law was passed, the prevalent scientific thinking was that, unlike pharmaceuticals or pesticides that are at risk of being ingested, chemical compounds are not intended to be biologically active and therefore not likely to cause harm. That has turned out to be dangerously incorrect.

“We now know that hundreds of chemicals have properties of concern to human health. And, moreover, we have evidence that we are being exposed to them in ways that we were not decades ago,” said Richard Denison, lead senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund.

Here’s the good news: An astonishing bipartisan coalition of senators, assembled by David Vitter (R-La.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.), is pushing an overhaul of the law, the culmination of a decade-long effort launched by the late senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved it last week by a vote of 15 to 5. When Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) agree on something beyond what to name a post office, that’s an achievement.

The confluence of interests that produced this progress stems from the ramped-up activity of state regulators in the absence of federal oversight, and the chemical industry’s preference for a federal rule rather than patchwork, and potentially more burdensome, state edicts.

But this impetus for action also reflects the biggest disagreement over the proposal — over the degree to which the federal law would preempt state regulation. This dispute has split the environmental movement and spurred the environment panel’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Barbara Boxer(Calif.), not only to vote against the measure in committee but to threaten a filibuster on the floor.

The chemical industry would prefer to have a federal law that entirely preempts state regulation. The compromise worked out by Vitter and Udall would allow existing state protections against hazardous chemicals to remain in place; states would remain free to impose additional regulations unless and until the EPA decided to launch a review.

Not perfect but about as good as it is going to get with a Republican Congress that isn’t disappearing anytime soon. Meanwhile, as with the blowup of climate change legislation in 2009, congressional failure now could mean no action for years.

“The risks are substantial that we will likely lose the best opportunity we’ve had in a generation,” said the defense fund’s Denison. Then, he said, “we go back to a status quo that everybody agrees is a failure.”

And that would be truly appalling.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sen. Inhofe in CNN

CNN: Obama should embrace nuclear energy

By EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe, April 22, 2015


Click here to read online


If there was ever any doubt that the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan is an energy policy plan, not a carbon reduction plan, all you have to do is look at how they treat nuclear energy.

Nuclear is our largest source of carbon-free energy, generating over 60% of our carbon-free electricity. Surely President Barack Obama's climate plan, allegedly aimed at reducing the United States' overall carbon emissions, would revitalize the nuclear industry, lead to increased plant construction and help meet aggressive carbon reduction targets. Well, think again.

James Hansen, the former head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in 2013that "continued opposition to nuclear power threatens humanity's ability to avoid dangerous climate change."

Yet Wednesday, the White House will celebrate Earth Day and promote its work to fend off climate change, while strategically ignoring its largest tool to cut carbon emissions -- nuclear energy -- as well as the warning of one of the administration's favorite climate scientists.

Despite the fact that nuclear power is carbon-free, the Obama administration's energy policy plan is biased against it. This bias is created by how Environmental Protection Agency credits nuclear power in its models of both current emissions and plan implementation. EPA's modeling is divorced from reality.

First, EPA's "Base Case for the Proposed Clean Power Plan" purports to depict the current state of the industry as the future would unfold without the Clean Power Plan. This base case assumes no new nuclear construction and indicates the retirement of 96 of our 99 operating nuclear plants by 2050.

EPA's implementation modeling, "Option 1 -- State," shows exactly the same situation: no new construction and 96 retirements by 2050. In other words, EPA assumes that the nuclear industry is essentially phased out by 2050.

These assumptions are tremendously important because they determine how emission targets are set and what state actions will receive credit toward those targets. A group of University of Tennessee graduate students made this point to EPA at a public hearing last summer.

Using EPA's own data, the graduate students showed that EPA's energy policy plan creates incentives for states to shut down nuclear power plants and replace them with natural gas combined cycle plants. The students demonstrated that under this scenario, EPA's model shows emission reductions while real world emissions actually increase.

President Obama's EPA has shifted its position on nuclear energy and hidden that policy shift in a model.

For example, when EPA modeled the Lieberman-Warner bill in 2008, the agency indicated 44 nuclear plants would need to be built by 2030 in order to achieve the carbon reductions mandated in the bill. EPA's modeling of the 2009 Waxman-Markey bill showed the need to build 275 new nuclear plants by 2050 to meet the carbon reduction targets in the legislation.

Where did this policy shift come from?

At a recent hearing in the Environment and Public Works Committee, Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, told Congress that EPA looked at California's California Global Warming Solutions Act when developing its so-called Clean Power Plan and that EPA's plan adopts the same policy choices -- limited credit for either nuclear or hydropower -- both of which are carbon-free.

Thus, EPA is assuming legislative powers and is making policy choices that favor some forms of carbon-free energy over others.

Congress did not give EPA the authority to make these choices, so instead they have hidden them in the modeling.

For example, the same modeling that assumes the nuclear energy phaseout coincidentally shows robust development of renewables without any retirements between now and 2050. This is a very favorable assumption albeit unlikely considering wind turbines and solar panels are commonly believed to last only 20 to 30 years before needing replacement.

This anti-nuclear bias also is evident in Obama's recent executive order "Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade," which directs agencies to reduce their carbon emissions. Even though existing nuclear plants generate carbon-free electricity, the executive order does not allow agencies to take credit for emission reduction from nuclear energy unless it is energy from small modular reactors.

While I have long fought back on attempts for the federal government to tax carbon, I believe in an all-of-the-above energy strategy that provides our nation with energy security, and I have supported legislation that helps to clean the air. The administration says it shares these same interests, despite differing avenues to get there. The administration also believes in man-driven global warming, which should make nuclear energy its golden key.

But the Clean Power Plan and the President's recent executive order demonstrate that the Obama administration is neither serious about reducing carbon emissions nor pursuing an all-of-the-above energy strategy.

If you think this administration supports nuclear energy, think again.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Sen. Inhofe in Fox News

Fox News: Obama Exploits The Environment for His New Global Carbon Goals

By EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe, April 1, 2015, Click here to read online


On Monday, the Obama administration formally pledged to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent compared to 2005 levels. This pledge comes despite agreements with China that will allow the country to emit more CO2 in one month than the $479 billion regulation under the Clean Power Plan will reduce in the United States within one year.


The Obama administration will struggle to justify the lack of environmental progress achieved from such a deal, especially when American jobs become vulnerable to global competitors who can offer cheap and reliable energy. 


The 28 percent promise makes it clear that the administration is determined to use every tool it can identify, manipulate, or invent to advance its goal of overhauling our nation’s economy in the name of climate change.  This toolbox most notably includes a dangerous new use for an old instrument, the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. 


Initially signed into law on Jan 1, 1970, by President Richard Nixon, NEPA requires federal agencies to consider the impacts of major federal actions on the quality of the human environment. This means that when issuing permits or other approvals, providing federal funding, or carrying out projects themselves, agencies must consider how their actions would impact the environment here in the United States and evaluate alternatives that would avoid those impacts. Unfortunately, NEPA also is a favorite of activists who try to halt projects by bringing lawsuits alleging that an agency failed to look at all possible consequences or all possible alternatives. 


While NEPA is a bedrock environmental statute that appropriately requires federal agencies to look at the consequences of federal actions, it is very definitely not an appropriate tool to set global climate change policy, as I noted in a letter to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) back in October 2009.


Instead of listening to concerns expressed by myself and others, the Council on Dec. 24, 2014 -- a day when few Americans were paying attention -- published a new draft guidance dictating how federal agencies are supposed to consider the alleged climate change impacts of federal actions.


Under this new guidance, projects carried out by federal agencies, projects carried out by states or the private sector that need federal permits or approvals, and projects carried out by states or the private sector that use federal funding are assumed to have a significant impact on climate change.


Climate change is global. The impact of projects on the environment is local. The new requirement to assume global climate impacts is a dramatic change in the way that the Administration intends to apply NEPA -- an interpretation that we are certain is not supported by the law but that we are equally certain will bring about more NEPA lawsuits.


As chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I, along with a number of other Republican Senators -- John Boozman of Arkansas, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Dan Sullivan of Alaska – sent a letter to Christy Goldfuss, managing director of CEQ, urging her and the administration to withdraw this draft proposal.


Our overarching concern is the way the draft guidance sets up federal agencies to fail. 


It works this way: NEPA requires analysis only of the impacts of a project on the environment that occur within the boundaries of the United States, that have a reasonably close causal relationship to a project, that are reasonably foreseeable, and over which an agency has regulatory authority or control. 


Rather than respecting these limits on NEPA analysis, the draft guidance would require agencies to speculate about greenhouse gas emissions from actions that take place both before and after a project is carried out, and assume that these emissions “have a huge impact” on global climate change. 


Under the new interpretation of NEPA government agencies would then be required to evaluate alternatives that would avoid or mitigate these alleged impacts. 


This will result in endless analyses of coal, oil, gas, and other leasing proposals on federal and tribal land; federal activities on the Outer Continental Shelf; timber management and grazing on federal lands; and even highway projects. It will completely paralyze agency actions.


And, as a result, it will have very grave effects on the economic activities of the entire nation.


The draft guidance would adversely affect all Americans by reducing our ability to grow the economy and create jobs while having no impact on the quality of the environment—and least of all on global carbon emissions, where China and other countries will make our impact immediately meaningless. 


If the administration refuses to withdraw this harmful guidance, I fully expect it to be struck down by courts as yet another example of regulatory overreach in the name of global climate change. 


But before that happens, it will provide another tool for activists to use to stop important projects, adding to the economic confusion, fear, and pain of uncertainty that such sudden, drastic and unfounded interpretations of law always bring.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, a Republican, has served Oklahoma in the U.S. Senate since 1994.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sen. Inhofe in USA Today
U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) in USA Today: The real climate embarrassment
By EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe, April 1, 2015, Click here to read online 
The greatest embarrassment in the debate of human-driven climate change is that the administration — along with congressional Democrats and radical environmentalists — has found it easier to attack the messengers than the content of their message.
Alarmists have been critical of anyone with opposing views but have failed to be forthcoming with the data and science behind their hysteria. Despite inconclusive data, the administration continues to rely upon one-sided information to justify costly regulations.
In the event that scientists express some uncertainty of man-driven climate change, alarmists are quick to target dissenters, imposing a chilling effect on scientific inquiry.
In February, congressional Democrats did just that, targeting 100 universities, private companies, trade groups and non-profit organizations about their climate research funding, while failing to consider the principles of sound science.
Climate science should be weighed primarily on its merits — when the work can be reproduced and independent experts have a fair chance to validate the findings, regardless of funding sources. Instead, Democrats tried to silence legitimate, intellectual and scientific inquiry.
Beyond the concerns with the science and alarmists' attempt to dismiss opposing viewpoints, EPA has been secretive — if not downright reticent — with many of its plans to regulate climate change.
EPA has politicized rules in apparent avoidance of public debate and criticism; it has failed to hold forums in states that will bear the brunt of new rules; and it has gone above and beyond to operate behind closed doors with its social cost of carbon estimates.
Who is the real embarrassment here?
The debate on man-driven climate change is not over. Alarmists are distracting Americans from the pain the Obama administration's regulations will inflict on our economy while failing to make a significant impact on climate change.
Let's not forget the words of MIT atmospheric physicist Richard Lindzen, who said carbon regulation is a bureaucrat's dream because "if you control carbon, you control life."
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., is chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sen. Inhofe with Okla. Attorney General Scott Pruitt in Tulsa World

Tulsa World: U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt: Senate Bill 676 protects Oklahoma businesses, families from EPA’s overreach

By EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe and Okla. Attorney General Scott Pruitt, April 1, 2015, Click here to read online


As two of the most ardent critics of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, we are pleased Oklahoma is taking a leading role at the state and federal level in challenging the administration’s attempt to use EPA regulations to set forth a national energy plan. For years, state environmental regulators worked to improve the state’s air quality and protect the health of local citizens. Despite long-standing success, the Obama administration is attempting to commandeer the role of state environmental regulators, taking it a step further to dictate what type of power can be used to power Oklahoman’s homes and businesses.

In order to comply with the proposed rule, Oklahoma, for instance, would be required to cut power plant emissions of carbon dioxide by 35 percent. With coal and natural gas making up 90 percent of Oklahoma’s electricity supply, EPA knows there are only so many ways Oklahoma can achieve its arbitrary goals. EPA’s plan threatens energy affordability and reliability for consumers and businesses by forcing states into shuttering coal-fired power plants and eventually other sources of fossil-fuel-generated electricity.

The EPA doesn’t have the authority under the Clean Air Act to impose this rule. Under the act, states are to submit a plan for emissions reductions, and EPA retains the authority to enforce those plans. State governments are then left with two options: submit no plan or submit a plan that would surrender sovereign powers of a state over its electricity markets to federal bureaucrats.

At the federal level, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has held two hearings in the 114th Congress with witnesses from EPA as well as state regulators. The committee will continue to hold these oversight hearings to highlight the problems with the Obama administration’s plan while Congress works toward effective legislative solutions to limit and roll back EPA’s proposals.

At the state level, the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office is leading a bipartisan group of states in a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s authority to issue the unlawful rule. Our goal in challenging the EPA is to protect the role granted to state policy makers under the Clean Air Act to make decisions on what type of fuel can be used to generate electricity.

The Obama administration refuses to acknowledge questions about this proposed rule and despite the threat of a legal challenge, EPA continues moving forward with finalizing the rule.

We are encouraged Oklahoma policy makers are lending their voices to the chorus of those who oppose the Obama administration’s overreach. Gov. Mary Fallin and other governors sent a letter to the president expressing concern about the rule’s failure to strike a balance in the partnership between the states and the federal government. The Oklahoma Legislature also is considering a proactive approach to protect our state from federal environmental mandates that are outside the scope of the Clean Air Act.

Senate Bill 676 authored by Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, would allow for legislative oversight of carbon dioxide emissions plans submitted to EPA to ensure the plan in fact complies with the Clean Air Act. This common-sense bill will ensure any decisions about Oklahoma’s energy future will ultimately be held in the hands of our elected officials, not federal bureaucrats.

No state should comply with this rule if it will mean surrendering decision-making authority to the EPA, a power that has not been granted to the agency. States should be left to make decisions on the fuel diversity that best meets their electric generation needs. We will continue to fight for these issues in the U.S. Senate and in the federal courts.

We applaud Sen. Treat and his colleagues in the Oklahoma state Senate for passing SB 676. We encourage members of the Oklahoma House to join us in supporting this common-sense bill that will protect families and business and ensure Oklahoma maintains access to affordable and reliable power.

Jim Inhofe, a Republican, is Oklahoma’s senior U.S. Senator. Scott Pruitt, a Republican, is the Oklahoma attorney general.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Washington Examiner: Inhofe Takes Aim at Obama's Environmental Agenda

Washington Examiner: Inhofe Takes Aim at Obama's Environmental Agenda


Click here to read the article


Inhofe Takes Aim at Obama's Environmental Agenda

By: John Siciliano


Sen. Jim Inhofe is pursuing a robust agenda that includes shredding the Environmental Protection Agency's cost estimates for new air quality rules, while going after a White House metric at the heart of the president's climate agenda.

The Oklahoma Republican, who is chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, has been a staunch critic of the EPA and the Obama administration's environmental policy. He has championed campaigns to undercut environmental regulations that he sees as costly and unwarranted, including EPA plans to regulate greenhouse gases that are blamed by most scientists for causing manmade climate change.

At a March 11 hearing, Inhofe took aim at EPA's latest regulations to limit carbon dioxide from the nation's existing power plants. He called the rules, known as the Clean Power Plan, an affront to states' rights that would raise the cost of energy and damage power grid reliability.

He also said he was not convinced that EPA's estimates of the rule's benefits were accurate, noting that agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said as much at a separate hearing on the agency's budget earlier in the month.

In a statement he issued March 4 after the budget hearing, Inhofe said he took key revelations from McCarthy's testimony, including the hefty price tag of implementing the climate rules.

"Since the Clean Power Plan may reduce the rise of global temperatures by only .018 [degrees] Celsius by 2100, we learned from McCarthy that the real benefit of the rule is to send a 'signal' to other countries that America is serious about climate change," Inhofe said.

"This so-called 'signal' carries a hefty price tag of $479 billion in compliance costs and a double-digit increase in electricity costs over the next decade that will significantly impact every American," he said.

Inhofe and a group of his GOP colleagues also are pressing the White House for greater transparency in how it develops a key metric it has used to justify a variety of environmental rules based on the cost of damages that would result from manmade climate change.

In a March 9 letter to Howard Shelanski, the head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the senators pressed for a greater public viewing of what they consider hidden calculations used to justify "onerous" regulations.

The calculations, known as the social cost of carbon, are methodologies for weighing the cost savings to society from eliminating carbon dioxide, which scientists say is a key cause of global warming.

The social cost of carbon was developed through an federal interagency working group led by the White House. Until recently, it has not been subject to public scrutiny.

Many groups have criticized the administration for not making its methodology public and for not being transparent enough when it updates the metric.

"Congress and the American people deserve greater transparency and government accountability regarding the social cost of carbon," the senators' letter reads, referring to the cost tool as a "theoretical measure of climate change damages the administration uses to justify onerous regulations."

Congress had lobbied the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs intensely in recent years to get the White House to allow public comments to be taken on the social cost of carbon. They finally got their wish near the end of 2013. However, it has been more than a year since the comment period closed, "and they have not responded to the comments or provided any public information on the status of the [social cost of carbon]," the letter states.

The letter has a long list of questions for the regulatory affairs office. It primarily wants to know when congressional staff will be allowed to view the social cost of carbon methodology, how comments are being incorporated into the calculations, and how the interagency working group functions in evaluating changes to the carbon cost metric. The letter requests that the office respond no later than March 30.

Inhofe also is targeting the EPA's proposed rule for ratcheting down ozone emissions, according to another letter sent March 10 to McCarthy.

The new ozone regulations have raised concerns from industry groups and states over the cost and the fact that many regions of the country will not be able to comply.

The senator says the rules would cost an estimated $2.2 trillion in compliance costs from 2011 and 2040, while reducing the nation's gross domestic product by $270 billion annually by putting in place the most stringent air quality standards to date.

Inhofe does not believe EPA's cost estimates are accurate and wants the agency to answer specific questions regarding the agency's Regulatory Impact Analysis.

The proposed ozone regulations would reduce the current air quality threshold from 75 parts per billion to 65 ppb, or even lower to 60 ppb. Industry officials say the standard is unachievable and would lead to vast swaths of the nation becoming non-attainment zones that would restrict permitting for expanding or adding industrial emitters such as factories, refineries and other manufacturing facilities.

"EPA's recently proposed National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone is likely to be the costliest rule the agency has ever proposed," the letter reads.

EPA's November 2014 draft analysis estimates that the cost of lowering the standard could range between $3.9 billion to nearly $39 billion in 2025. "While these numbers are high, there are significant reasons to believe that the draft RIA may underestimate the likely true cost to the American public due to a number of questionable assumptions included in the analysis," the letter reads.

Inhofe is calling for McCarthy for have greater transparency in examining the extent of the rule's impact.

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee will take up the ozone rule at a March 17 hearing. The full committee hearing is entitled a "Reality Check" on the "Impact and Achievability of EPA's Proposed Ozone Standards."


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sens. Jim Inhofe and John Thune Co-Author Op-Ed on Proposed Ozone Rule

ICYMI: Sens. Jim Inhofe and John Thune Co-Author Op-Ed on Proposed Ozone Rule

Click here to read the op-ed

Proposed Ozone Rules are ‘Irresponsible’

By: Sens. Jim Inhofe and John Thune


The Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to lower the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone distorts the need for balance between environmental progress and economic growth.


While we have always stood in favor of cleaner air, the proposal to lower the current ozone standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) could be the most expensive regulation in history and place undue burden on counties still working to comply with existing obligations, as well as impose costly regulations on new communities. EPA has proposed to set the standard between 65 and 70ppb and is taking comment on 60ppb. Should the standard be lowered to 60ppb, nearly the entire nation could be out of ozone compliance (or in "nonattainment") for the first time ever.


The Obama administration's aggressive push for swift changes to this rule is predicated on the health benefits of reduced ozone, or smog. However, many of these benefits will result from the reduction of other criteria pollutants, not ozone, which are already subject to other EPA regulations. Moreover, the 2008 standard of 75ppb is yet to be fully implemented; benefits continue to be achieved as the remaining 227 counties in nonattainment work to meet the standard.


Setting a new standard at this time is impractical and irresponsible, and both sides of the aisle agree. Kentucky's democrat Gov. Steven Beshear, who, incidentally, has proposed one of the most stringent state caps on carbon dioxide, has even written President Obama asking for withdrawal of the proposed ozone rule.

Our nation has made great strides in cleaning up the air we breathe. Air-pollution levels are at an all-time low. But 40 percent of Americans currently live in areas that haven't met the current ozone standard. By lowering the standard to 65ppb, EPA would then place 67 percent of U.S. land in nonattainment. Many of these areas, like Yellowstone National Park or high-elevation communities, have high levels of naturally occurring ozone, making them unable to comply with a lower standard.

While EPA is precluded from considering costs in setting a standard, the sheer economic magnitude of this rule is unprecedented and cannot be brushed under the rug. Even President Obama recognized this in 2011 when he pulled the plug mid-review on an attempt to similarly lower the ozone standard due to the "regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty" it would impose on our country.

As a direct result of restricting the ozone standard to even 65ppb, most of the country will experience tremendous hardship through slower growth and job contractions. Lowering the standard could cut the GDP by $140 billion per year, topping $1.7 trillion by the time it is fully implemented. This would come at the steep cost of 1.4 million fewer jobs and an average drop in household consumption of $830 each year, according to the National Association of Manufacturers.

In an effort to try to show how easily the country will meet a lower standard, EPA uses a sleight of hand to obfuscate the true cost of compliance. The agency relies heavily on proposed regulations like the Clean Power Plan and tailpipe emission regulations that won't be fully in effect for years to come. EPA's proposal also essentially exempts California from meeting national air quality rules, further underestimating the true cost of compliance. California is the only state given until 2032 to comply. 

The Obama administration needs to withdraw its proposed standard and simply allow the current law to be fully implemented. Emissions would still go down another 36 percent from where they are now, and we could avoid all of these unnecessary burdens.

That is why we support the Clean Air, Strong Economies (CASE) Act, which is being introduced today. This bipartisan legislation would require 85 percent of the counties currently in nonattainment to first achieve compliance with the existing 75ppb ozone standard before EPA can impose a stricter regulation. This threshold would force EPA to focus on the worst areas of smog concentration before expanding these regulations to other rural and urban areas across the country.

The CASE Act would also require EPA to consider the costs and feasibility of a lower standard, which it currently does not consider. The act would also prohibit EPA from using unreliable modeling to expand nonattainment areas to hundreds of rural counties that otherwise would not be impacted by the expensive regulation.

At a time when our economy is seeking to turn the corner, we must pursue every opportunity to create jobs and strengthen American industry. A lower ozone standard would abruptly halt any such progress in many parts of the country and impose expensive and restricting compliance costs in nearly every state. As we pursue passage of the CASE Act, we urge the Obama administration to again withdraw its misguided proposal to lower the ozone standard.

Commentary by Sens. Jim Inhofe and John Thune. Inhofe is chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Thune is chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, as well as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. Follow them on Twitter @jiminhofe and @johnthune. 

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