Blogs - Blogs
Tuesday, March 17, 2015

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

ICYMI: 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."

 


Friday, March 6, 2015

ICYMI: Richard Lindzen in WSJ on The Political Assault on Climate Skeptics

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact:

Kristina Baum – 202.224.6176

Donelle Harder – 202.224.1282 

ICYMI: Richard Lindzen in WSJ on The Political Assault on Climate Skeptics

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by MIT professor emeritus of atmospheric sciences, Richard Lindzen. The piece – The Political Assault on Climate Skeptics – discusses recent letters sent by congressional Democrats that sought to censor scientists, like Lindzen, who’s research opposes the mainstream media’s climate alarmism.

 

Last week, the Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) led all EPW Republicans in taking a stand for academic freedom. The chairman expressed concern that the Democrats are trying to impose a chilling effect on scientific inquiry, saying that “At the end of the day, those disagreeing with certain scientific findings should judge them based on whether or not they are sound and transparent.

 

 

 

Full Article:

The Political Assault on Climate Skeptics

Richard S. Lindzen

 

Research in recent years has encouraged those of us who question the popular alarm over allegedly man-made global warming. Actually, the move from “global warming” to “climate change” indicated the silliness of this issue. The climate has been changing since the Earth was formed. This normal course is now taken to be evidence of doom.

Individuals and organizations highly vested in disaster scenarios have relentlessly attacked scientists and others who do not share their beliefs. The attacks have taken a threatening turn.

As to the science itself, it’s worth noting that all predictions of warming since the onset of the last warming episode of 1978-98—which is the only period that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) attempts to attribute to carbon-dioxide emissions—have greatly exceeded what has been observed. These observations support a much reduced and essentially harmless climate response to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.

In addition, there is experimental support for the increased importance of variations in solar radiation on climate and a renewed awareness of the importance of natural unforced climate variability that is largely absent in current climate models. There also is observational evidence from several independent studies that the so-called “water vapor feedback,” essential to amplifying the relatively weak impact of carbon dioxide alone on Earth temperatures, is canceled by cloud processes.

There are also claims that extreme weather—hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, you name it—may be due to global warming. The data show no increase in the number or intensity of such events. The IPCC itself acknowledges the lack of any evident relation between extreme weather and climate, though allowing that with sufficient effort some relation might be uncovered.

 

World leaders proclaim that climate change is our greatest problem, demonizing carbon dioxide. Yet atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have been vastly higher through most of Earth’s history. Climates both warmer and colder than the present have coexisted with these higher levels.

Currently elevated levels of carbon dioxide have contributed to increases in agricultural productivity. Indeed, climatologists before the recent global warming hysteria referred to warm periods as “climate optima.” Yet world leaders are embarking on costly policies that have no capacity to replace fossil fuels but enrich crony capitalists at public expense, increasing costs for all, and restricting access to energy to the world’s poorest populations that still lack access to electricity’s immense benefits.

Billions of dollars have been poured into studies supporting climate alarm, and trillions of dollars have been involved in overthrowing the energy economy. So it is unsurprising that great efforts have been made to ramp up hysteria, even as the case for climate alarm is disintegrating.

The latest example began with an article published in the New York Times on Feb. 22 about Willie Soon, a scientist at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Mr. Soon has, for over 25 years, argued for a primary role of solar variability on climate. But as Greenpeacenoted in 2011, Mr. Soon was, in small measure, supported by fossil-fuel companies over a period of 10 years.

 

The Times reintroduced this old material as news, arguing that Mr. Soon had failed to list this support in a recent paper in Science Bulletin of which he was one of four authors. Two days later Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, used the Times article as the basis for a hunting expedition into anything said, written and communicated by seven individuals— David Legates, John Christy, Judith Curry, Robert Balling, Roger Pielke Jr. , Steven Hayward and me—about testimony we gave to Congress or other governmental bodies. We were selected solely on the basis of our objections to alarmist claims about the climate.

In letters he sent to the presidents of the universities employing us (although I have been retired from MIT since 2013), Mr. Grijalva wanted all details of all of our outside funding, and communications about this funding, including “consulting fees, promotional considerations, speaking fees, honoraria, travel expenses, salary, compensation and any other monies.” Mr. Grijalva acknowledged the absence of any evidence but purportedly wanted to know if accusations made against Mr. Soon about alleged conflicts of interest or failure to disclose his funding sources in science journals might not also apply to us.

 

Perhaps the most bizarre letter concerned the University of Colorado’s Mr. Pielke. His specialty is science policy, not science per se, and he supports reductions in carbon emissions but finds no basis for associating extreme weather with climate. Mr. Grijalva’s complaint is that Mr. Pielke, in agreeing with the IPCC on extreme weather and climate, contradicts the assertions of John Holdren, President Obama ’s science czar.

Mr. Grijalva’s letters convey an unstated but perfectly clear threat: Research disputing alarm over the climate should cease lest universities that employ such individuals incur massive inconvenience and expense—and scientists holding such views should not offer testimony to Congress. After the Times article, Sens. Edward Markey (D., Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) andBarbara Boxer (D., Calif.) also sent letters to numerous energy companies, industrial organizations and, strangely, many right-of-center think tanks (including the Cato Institute, with which I have an association) to unearth their alleged influence peddling.

 

The American Meteorological Society responded with appropriate indignation at the singling out of scientists for their scientific positions, as did many individual scientists. On Monday, apparently reacting to criticism, Mr. Grijalva conceded to the National Journal that his requests for communications between the seven of us and our outside funders was “overreach.”

 

Where all this will lead is still hard to tell. At least Mr. Grijalva’s letters should help clarify for many the essentially political nature of the alarms over the climate, and the damage it is doing to science, the environment and the well-being of the world’s poorest.

Mr. Lindzen is professor emeritus of atmospheric sciences at MIT and a distinguished senior fellow of the Cato Institute.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

ICYMI: Sen. Inhofe Discusses the Threat of Global Warming vs. Terrorism

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact:

Kristina Baum – 202.224.6176

Donelle Harder – 202.224.1282 

ICYMI: Sen. Inhofe Discusses the Threat of Global Warming vs. Terrorism 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OKla.), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee and senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today addressed on the Senate floor the Obama Administration’s claims that global warming is a greater threat to Americans than terrorism.  

 

 

Click here to view video 

As Prepared for Delivery:

There has been a lot of recent news coverage on the climate. Early this year the perpetual headline was that 2014 had been the warmest year on record. But now the script has flipped. Some outlets are referring to the recent cold temperatures as the “Siberian Express” while others are printing pictures of a frozen Niagara Falls and 4,700 square miles of ice that formed on the Great Lakes in one night.

Let’s talk more about the “warmest year” claim.

On January 16th, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies’ (GISS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), concluded that 2014 was the warmest year in modern record – which starts in 1880.   NASA relied on readings from over 3,000 measuring stations worldwide and only found an increase of just two hundredths of a degree over the previous record.

An important point left out of the NASA press release was the margin of error, which on average is 0.1 degree Celsius, several times greater than the amount of warming. This discrepancy was questioned at a press conference and NASA’s GISS Director back-tracked the ‘warmest year’ headline, saying there was only a 38% chance 2014 was the warmest year on record.

Another recent report, issued by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project using data from more than 30,000 temperature stations, concluded IF 2014 was the warmest year on record it was by less than 0.01 degrees Celsius. Again, below the margin of error ultimately making it impossible to conclude 2014 was the warmest year.

Additional climate experts, including University of Oklahoma geophysicist David Deming, have stated that the “warmest year of record” statement is only as relevant as when the “record” actually began. Others state that “record-setting” conclusions issued in January require the use of incomplete data because “the preponderance of the data arrives much later from underdeveloped and developing nations, they are from rural areas, and the revised estimate of global air temperature decreases.”

The media was quick to ditch the warmest year on record claim, however, as cold weather has left most of the country experiencing record low temperatures.

Today’s Washington Post highlighted all the long-standing records that were broken in the Northeast and Midwest. According to the National Weather Service, 67 record lows were broken on Monday and Tuesday.

Whether news cycles or climate cycles, variations of hot and cold are nothing new. 

Recent climate change discussions like to focus on climate trends post-1880 but the reality is that climate change has been occurring since the beginning of time.

[Medieval Warm Period Chart] In the past 2000 years, there was the Medieval Warm Period followed immediately by the Little Ice Age.

These two climate events are widely recognized in scientific literature.

In June 2006, the National Academy of Science released its study, “Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2000 Years” which acknowledged that there were “relatively warm conditions centered around AD 1000 (identified by some as the ‘Medieval Warm Period’) and a relatively cold period (or ‘Little Ice Age’) centered around 1700.

[Time Magazine Chart] In 1974, Time Magazine published an article entitled “Another Ice Age?” that cited droughts in Africa, flooding  in Pakistan and Japan, a potentially small wheat harvest in Canada, unusually dry spells in Britain, and extremely cold winters in the American West as evidence of a looming Ice Age.

In 1975, Newsweek published an article titled “The Cooling World,” arguing that global temperatures were falling and terrible consequences for food production were on the horizon.  One proposed solution for the perceived crisis involved “melting the arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot.”

In more recent years, we have seen climate shifts as well, including a 17-year hiatus in global temperature increase which was covered in both the Economist and Nature.

This highlights that the climate is changing and always has been. In fact, our recent vote during the Keystone XL Pipeline debate showed that 97 of my Democrat and Republican colleagues agree.

Despite a long list of unsubstantiated global warming claims, climate activists and environmental groups will cling to any extreme-weather related headline to support their case for global warming and to instill the fear of global warming in the American people. 

President Obama is using a similar tactic in order to scare Americans into supporting his extreme climate change agenda. In a recent interview, President Obama agreed that the media overstates the dangers of terrorism while downplaying the risks of climate change.  His press secretary, Josh Earnest, later reiterated that President Obama believes climate change affects far more Americans than terrorism.

According to the President, the biggest challenge we face IS NOT the spread of Muslim extremists in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen or Nigeria.

It is not Russia aggression against NATO and the US as well as its invasion of Georgia and the Ukraine.

It is not the expansion of Iranian influence and sponsorship of terrorism throughout the Middle East, or its pursuit of a nuclear weapon and a system to deliver it.

It is not North Korea’s continued development of its nuclear weapon stockpile and improving their delivery systems to include the January 23 launch of a submarine launched ballistic missile called the KN-11.

It is not the continued capture and killing of reporters, missionaries, businessmen, Christians, and other non-Muslims, in what has clearly been a religious confrontation being pursued by Islamic extremists.

The President’s position that global warming is our biggest problem is underscored by the fact that he won’t even publicly state that the 21 Egyptians executed by ISIL were Coptic Christians.  And he goes out of his way to downplay the actions and dangers of ISIS, even though the group continues to terrorize the world.

Just this past weekend, ISIS abducted over 70 Assyrian Christians, including women and children, from villages in eastern Syria.

According to the President, our biggest threat is not the continued threats made by extremists against the United States and its citizens.

It is not the successful attacks carried out in the United States in places such as New York, Boston, and Fort Hood or potential attacks of lone-wolves or sleeper cells against soft targets like the Mall of America, which is the most recent subject of an ISIL threat.

Yet, even as these atrocities are taking place, President Obama is telling the world that climate change is a greater threat to our nation than terrorism.

This is just another illustration that this President and his administration is detached from the realities we are facing today and into the future.

His repeated failure to understand the real threat to our national security and inability to develop a coherent national security strategy has put this nation at level of risk unknown for decades.

His failure of leadership and gutting of our military have weakened our ability to influence and respond to crisis, creating power vacuums across the. 

This all comes at a tremendous cost to our national security.

The President has accused the media of “overstating” the problem, heightening the fears of the population.  As he downplays the threats, we see photos of young children standing in a military like formations, being brainwashed into ISIS/ISIL extremism.

We shouldn’t be surprised of this.  It is the natural outgrowth of the President’s failed leadership.  In 2012 and 2013, Obama spoke of helping Libya and Yemen fight terrorism. 

Yet even as he addressed this nation, both countries spiraled toward chaos; creating terrorist safe havens. 

Just days after his speech, Yemen’s Prime Minister and his cabinet resigned amidst a coup by the Iranian backed Houthi rebels.

The administration aided instability in Afghanistan by releasing some of the most senior leaders of the Taliban – “Taliban Dream Team” – from Guantanamo Bay.     Mullar Omar, the Taliban’s leader, called the releases a “great victory”

This action allowed these men to rejoin the fight against our service men and women. 

The President quickly withdrew from Iraq, leaving a vacuum for ISIS to fill, which is now requiring our military to return.

The President wants to repeat our errors with a speedy withdraw from Afghanistan despite the advice of his commanders on the ground and request by Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani to "re-examine" our withdrawal plan.

He has de-Reaganized Europe by drastically cutting our forces, acquiescing to Russian influence by cutting our ballistic missile defense site in Poland and radar the Czech Republic, and by failing to provide assistance apart from MREs and blankets to the Ukraine as it was invaded by Russia

The President detailed in his State of the Union that “We're upholding the principle that bigger nations can't bully the small -- by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine's democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies”

Yet, under the President’s failed leadership we have seen two cease-fire failures, thousands of civilians displaced and approximately 5,000 killed.

America’s assistance is vital to denying Putin’s attempts to destabilize the region, yet it has been unreliable and embarrassingly slow under the Obama administration.

The administration is overwhelmed by world events and blind to the fact that terrorists are at war with America and our way of life.

We now live in a world where our Allies don’t trust us and our enemies don’t fear us.

When will the President and the administration take the steps required to minimize the risk to Americans and our Allies by providing this country with a National Security Strategy.

One that addresses today’s global security environment, grows back our military and its readiness and deals with our enemies from a position of strength, not weakness and appeasement.

These are the biggest threats facing our nation today.  It is deidedly not global warming.  The threat of war, terrorism, and extremism have plagued the earth for centuries.  And the United States is not immune.  We must take all threats seriously and take every responsible action to secure our freedom.  Threats to our national security are always the most serious threats we face.  Issues like global warming, or global cooling 40 years ago, are simply not what we need to be worrying about in the same breath as our national security. 

 

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

ICYMI: Sen. Inhofe Affirms Federal Role in Transportation

ICYMI: Sen. Inhofe Affirms Federal Role in Transportation

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — During a Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee hearing on transportation reauthorization, Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) questioned witnesses on the need for federal involvement in maintaining and modernizing the nation’s transportation infrastructure. Witnesses responded to the Chairman’s questions, sounding the alarm that devolution is not realistic and that instead a healthy partnership between the federal government and the states is the best solution to improving the infrastructure network. 

 

Click here to watch the video

 

Chairman Inhofe: I’ve been very frustrated over how we’ve paid for a multi-year reauthorization and some of my colleagues have talked about supporting a program of shifting the federal programs back to the states by cutting the federal user fees, some of them by 15 cents, some of them by whatever other amounts and then letting the states pick up the tab. Now, if such a thing were to become a reality, Idaho would have to raise its state gas tax by 25 cents, West Virginia by 32 cents, Utah (your state Mr. Braceras) by 19 cents and Montana by 44 cents. When you talk about devolution as several have suggested, I’m probably the right one to talk about this and my colleagues don’t know this, but 25 years ago, Connie Mack from Florida and Jim Inhofe from Oklahoma were the fathers of devolution. We thought “oh that’s so much fun on the stump to talk about how we’ll go back to Oklahoma – why make an unnecessary trip for our dollars to OK to Washington and back” until we realized that it didn’t work. But you know that interstate commerce doesn’t stop at states boundaries no state is an island. And you know, I’ve read extensively on Eisenhower – I’ve always been a great admirer of his – my other committee is Armed Services Committee, and he used to say “it’s just as much about national defense as it is interstate commerce. Interstate connectivity and national defense access are equally important.”

Mr. Braceras, do you agree with me? What do you think?

The Honorable Carlos M. Braceras, P.E. Secretary Treasurer, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; Executive Director, Utah Department of Transportation: Mr. Chairman I would say the answer of whether or not to devolve the federal program is if you believe there is not federal purpose in transportation. I believe that there is a strong purpose in our nation’s transportation system for having a strong federal role. Companies such as Advanced Pierre Food Services produce their products but they depend on a vibrant, well-functioning, safe transportation system in every state of this county. For our country to continue to be successful as well as an economic leader we need a strong federal role in the transportation system.

Chairman Inhofe: one follow-up question on that. What if a state went through this concept and a state decided that they were not going to increase their taxes, your state of Utah for example. What would happen to the national system?

Carlos Braceras: We depend on the federal program to maintain and operate our transportation system. We have a strong state system, our federal program constitutes just under 25% of our program but the federal program is what we maintain and preserve the state’s transportation system on so you would see roads continue to deteriorate, you would see bridges continue to deteriorate. So that federal role is critical.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

ICYMI: Sen. Inhofe in The Hill: Planning for Long Term Key to Economic Health
ICYMI: THE HILL: Planning for long term key to economic health
By EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe, February 24, 2015, Click here to read online
 

Thanks to the vision of President Dwight Eisenhower, the United States has been a global leader in transportation, which, in turn, has given us a world-class military and provided a stage for every American to access economic opportunity. But lately, our infrastructure has failed to keep up, largely due to funding uncertainty with the Highway Trust Fund and a lack of long-term authorization bills. While the United States struggles to maintain the existing conditions of our transportation system, our global competitors are greatly outpacing us in their infrastructure investments.


American businesses rely on an efficient and reliable transportation network. More than 250 million vehicles traverse the highway system each year, and businesses require a reliable transportation network to operate efficiently. But every day, nearly 20,000 miles of the nation's highway system slow below posted speed limits or experience stop-and-go conditions. This type of congestion has a quantifiable, negative impact on America's businesses and our global competitiveness.


Each year, the nation's transportation system moves nearly 18 billion tons of goods, valued at nearly $17 trillion. Given the connected nature of the supply chain, congestion in one part of the country has ripple effects throughout the rest of the network.


Unfortunately, congestion is becoming more and more of a problem for American businesses. The American Society of Civil Engineers rates our nation's roads a "D" and our bridges a "C+," yet our nation's investment in this foundational transportation network is not keeping up with our needs.


As we are all aware, the federal highway program is operating on a short-term extension that expires at the end of May. With this deadline soon approaching, my staff has been working with Sen. Barbara Boxer's (D-Calif.) staff on a long-term bill that will give our partners the certainty they need to plan and construct important transportation projects. Our states, industries and economy need long-term authorizations that ensure funding and allow for the planning of big, long-term projects of regional and national importance. The conservative position is to prevent short-term extensions. As history showed us after nine extensions between the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005 and the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) in 2012, we lose a dramatic amount of the Highway Trust Fund's resources, when we fail to achieve longer-term funding bills.


Today, we sit at a crossroads. We could take the responsible course and pass a long-term reauthorization of MAP-21, or we could kick the can down the road and find short-term patches that continue the uncertainty facing our partners. I believe we can do better.


Our infrastructure investments are a partnership between the federal government and the states. This duty is outlined in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which charges Congress with the responsibility to tend to the nation's commerce between the states and to establish arteries to facilitate such commerce.


This is why on Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold its second hearing in the 114th Congress on the need for a long-term transportation reauthorization, where members and witnesses will explore the link between a world-class transportation system and economic productivity. Our witnesses will offer a perspective from not only state leaders, but also hometown business leaders that depend on our roads and bridges to move goods, create jobs and contribute to our nation's economy. The committee will also look at the importance of the federal government partnering with and empowering states to help meet their infrastructure goals.


As chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I am committed to doing the right thing and keeping Congress's end of the bargain to pass a fiscally responsible, long-term transportation bill. As we continue to explore and debate this legislation, let us remember the words of James Madison, written in No. 42 of the Federalist Papers, "Nothing which tends to facilitate the intercourse between the states can be deemed unworthy of the public care."


Inhofe is Oklahoma's senior senator, serving since 1994. He is chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee and also sits on the Armed Services Committee.

 


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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

ICYMI: Senate, House Introduce Bill to Ensure Open EPA Science

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact:

Kristina Baum - 202.224.6176

Donelle Harder - 202.224.1282 

ICYMI: Senate, House Introduce Bill to Ensure Open EPA Science 

 

WASHINGTON, DC - Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today introduced the Secret Science Reform Act to ensure future EPA regulations are based on the best available science. Similar legislation passed the House in the 113th Congress with bipartisan support.

Chairman Smith: "Costly regulations should not be created behind closed doors and out of public view. The data that underpins EPA regulations should be available to the public so that independent scientists have a fair chance to verify findings. Hardworking American families foot the bill for EPA's billion dollar regulations and have a right to know that policy is based on sound science and thoughtful analysis. Our freedoms are best protected when citizens are informed. The Secret Science Reform Act would prohibit the EPA from using science they aren't willing to make public. This bill works toward a more accountable government that the American people want and deserve."

Sen. Barrasso: "For years, the EPA has based its rules and regulations on secret data that they refuse to publish and make available to all Americans. Since the American people bear the expensive costs of EPA red tape, they deserve to have access to the science behind these regulations. Our bill will force the Obama Administration to finally start living up to its claim of being the ‘most transparent administration' in history."

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.): "The real test for sound science is transparency and reproducibility. Especially at a time when the American people are facing costly and burdensome EPA regulations, underlying science must be scientifically sound and unbiased. I am in strong support of Sen. Barrasso and Rep. Smith's Secret Science Reform Act, which will ensure scientific research used by the EPA to propose regulations meets this basic test."


The White House has previously voiced support for regulatory transparency and making scientific and technical information accessible. In accordance with White House recommendations, the Secret Science Reform Act addresses these issues while also protecting personal and confidential information. This common-sense approach to regulatory science is consistent with the data access requirements of major scientific journals and the promises of this administration.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

ICYMI: EPA Air Chief Fails to Make the Case for Climate Regulations

On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, set the record straight on the Obama Administration's climate change regulations. During an EPW Oversight Hearing on the Environment Protection Agency's (EPA) Proposed Carbon Dioxide Emissions Rules, EPA's Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, Janet McCabe failed to present a convincing case on why the Administration should proceed with its proposed climate regulations that have received 5 million comments, are opposed by a majority of the states, and fail to take substantive action on the president's global warming goals.


 

 

Sen. Inhofe helped point out the facts about the toll these expensive regulations would take on our country's economy:


Bloomberg BNA: "Setting carbon dioxide emissions limits on power plants would only drive more manufacturing jobs to China while imposing significant costs on the U.S. economy," Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said. (http://bit.ly/1E5chFK


Washington Examiner: Conservatives, coal-state lawmakers and industry groups want to scrap the rule because they say it will raise electricity rates - committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., called the proposal "the most regressive tax increase you can have," while Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker called it "EPA's most blatant overreach." (http://washex.am/1E5cI2W


Wall Street Journal, Slate, Daily Caller: Reducing carbon dioxide on its own would have no direct impact on public health since it's not an actual pollutant. Breathing in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doesn't cause illness or death. In fact, humans breathe out about 2.3 pounds of carbon dioxide per day. Carbon dioxide is also a necessary component of life on Earth - there would be no plant life without it. (http://bit.ly/1uKDk9j

 

Public Power: "Thirty-one states now oppose your Clean Power Plan," the Oklahoma Republican told Janet McCabe, the EPA's acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, who was the lone witness at the hearing. "I am concerned that your agency intends to impose the most expensive regulation in history yet fail to achieve your goals," Inhofe said. An analysis by NERA, an economic consulting and analysis firm, says the EPA plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants will cost "as much as $73 billion per year and upwards of $469 billion over the next 15 years," he said. (http://bit.ly/1uKQMtX)


Below are the top tweets from the hearing:
 

 

I'm appalled by the @EPA's refusal to hold a public hearing in WV because it wasn't deemed 'comfortable' enough. http://t.co/AqvnRms4oP

— Shelley Moore Capito (@SenCapito) February 11, 2015
 

.@jiminhofe: China would love for US to make more unnecessary CO2 reductions so that they can inherit the manufacturing jobs @EPA runs out

— EPW Majority (@EPWRepublicans) February 11, 2015

At EPW hearing on CO2 rule I told EPA that when a majority of states object to a rule, you're doing something wrong. https://t.co/vXiHevPEXr

— Sen. John Barrasso (@SenJohnBarrasso) February 11, 2015

States reject @EPA's CO2 rules for good reason - they ignore the will of Congress, cost billions, and do nothing to impact global warming

— EPW Majority (@EPWRepublicans) February 11, 2015
 
Sen. Inhofe plans to hold a state-focused hearing in the coming weeks to hear directly from state regulators about the concerns they have with EPA's proposed CO2 emissions rules. 


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Vitter Summary Statement on Joint EPW-HELP Oversight Hearing on Chemical Facility Safety and Security
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works & U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Joint Hearing on “Oversight of the Implementation of the President’s Executive Order on Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security”
I want to begin by thanking Chairman Boxer and Chairman Harkin for convening this hearing today. The chemical industry is incredibly important not only to my home state of Louisiana but to our nation as a whole. Before I continue on with my statement I would like to note that today Senator Inhofe and I sent a letter to our EPA witness on this very subject, and I would like to enter it into the record. [Click here to read the letter.]

When tragic accidents like the explosions in Geismar or Donaldsonville, LA, take place, it is critically important that they are thoroughly and expeditiously investigated. Genuine effort must be put forth to understand their causes, and we must strive to prevent similar accidents in the future.

Immediately following the explosion in Geismar, I requested the Chemical Safety Board dispatch a team to Louisiana, and I have appreciated their work and updates on the investigation.

It is no secret that chemical manufacturers spend billions of dollars annually in safety, health, environmental, and security programs through initiatives like American Chemistry Council's Responsible Care. Others in the regulated community have initiatives like the fertilizer industry which just this week launched their ResponsibleAg program aimed at improving safety and security within their industry.

Despite these important initiatives, nothing comes without risk, and accidents unfortunately happen. Whenever these tragic incidents occur, it reminds us all that we must collaborate to achieve real improvements that will better protect our local communities, citizens, and workers.

Today we are here to discuss President Obama's Executive Order 13650, "Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security." Unfortunately, I believe that many of the actions being contemplated as part of this order may actually result in outcomes contrary to our collective goals, and more specifically may result in less compliance with the law and less safety at these already highly regulated facilities.

To quote a previous Committee witness who testified on this very issue, Rick Webre from the Ascension Parish Office of Homeland Security, "I cannot emphasize enough that all disasters are initially local." In Louisiana, we are fortunate to have robust Local Emergency Planning Committees which Mr. Webre called "the most critical function that a community can perform to prevent, mitigate, and respond to and recover from an industrial accident."

I believe that before we rush to create new complicated federal mandates, which in many cases can create more problems than they fix, we need to better understand what problems we are trying to solve and make sure we are giving folks within local communities the tools to ensure local safety.

Given that a great deal of our Committee discussions have centered around ammonium nitrate, I want to reference a May report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office on chemical safety which made clear unless OSHA takes additional action to "promote awareness of how to comply with its regulations, fertilizer facilities may not know whether their practices are in compliance with OSHA's existing ammonium nitrate storage regulations."

The report goes on to say that although OSHA already has requirements for safely storing ammonium nitrate, "OSHA has done little to ensure that the fertilizer industry, which is one of the primary users of ammonium nitrate, understands how to comply with its existing regulations."

Today we see a stark contrast in the way the two Agencies testifying before us are carrying out their respective rulemakings pursuant to the President's Order. While OSHA is taking a deliberative approach, allowing reasonable time for input, and planning to convene a panel to comprehend their rules on small business, EPA's process is noticeably different. EPA set an arbitrarily short deadline on itself, asked for responses to close to 400 complex questions in an unreasonably short period of time, and denied an extension request seeking a more appropriate timeframe. EPA also does not appear to be willing or interested in a small business review, seeking advice through a Clean Air Act Advisory Committee panel, or convening a committee of experts under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. These differences are particularly troubling when you consider the agencies and their rules are directed by the Executive Order to coordinate and be harmonized.

Ensuring the citizens, workers, and communities across Louisiana and the nation are protected from industrial accidents of all kinds should always be a top priority and based on considerate information from what we've learned, and I hope today this hearing helps us take a positive step in the right direction. Thank you again to both Chairmen for holding this important hearing, and I look forward to hearing from the witnesses.

 

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Vitter Summary Statement on Nuclear Regulatory Commission Oversight Hearing
“Oversight Hearing: NRC’s Implementation of the Fukushima Near-Term Task Force Recommendations and Other Actions to Enhance and Maintain Nuclear Safety”
Thank you, Chairman Boxer, for convening today's hearing, and I would like to thank our NRC commissioners for returning to testify in front of this committee. I would also like to thank our industry experts and stakeholders for being here today.

Before getting started I would like to bring some attention to the committee mark-up that occurred yesterday to consider several nominations, including the nomination of Commissioner Baran to fill the remainder of Chairman MacFarlane's term.

While it is true that we recently held a hearing to consider Baran's qualifications on September 11, 2014, the sole purpose of that hearing was to decide whether or not he was qualified to hold this position for the remainder of former Commissioner William Magwood's term, which will expire on July 30, 2015.

Chairman Macfarlane's term is set to expire on June 30, 2018. The difference between these two term lengths are drastic, and many questions remain concerning the qualifications of Baran who only recently visited a nuclear reactor power station for the first time after being nominated.

While I appreciate Chairman Boxer's commitment to the safety of our nuclear reactor fleet, it is clearly a misstep to move forward on Baran's nomination for a drastically longer term, without holding a full EPW nominations hearing. There is no precedent for disregarding the importance of making sure each member of the NRC is qualified for the exact position and term for which they have been nominated.

The decision to hold yesterday's EPW meeting is a clear change in committee precedent and will have long-term ramifications as we move into a new Congress.

There is no doubt that many will attempt to counter this statement, saying we can ask Commissioner Baran any questions we would like during today's oversight hearing. However, dividing our time and focus between the important oversight of the Commission and the future of the NRC's leadership undermines the purpose of this committee.

The bottom line is that no nominee, including Baran, should be given a free pass into office based solely on the merits of being handpicked by Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Ensuring our commissioners are well-qualified and that the NRC is conducting business in a fact-based and ethical manner are crucial to the health, reliability, and safety of our nuclear fleet.

It is the primary reason that our nuclear reactor fleet remains the safest in the world.

The NRC has made great strides since the departure of the previous chairman, and I fear that Senate Democrats continue to undermine that progress as they prioritize politics over facts, policy and safety.

Again, thank you very much for being here, and I look forward to hearing from you on these important issues.

 

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Vitter Summary Statement on Hearing to Consider the Super Pollutants Act of 2014
Hearing to Consider the Super Pollutants Act of 2014 (S. 2911)
Thank you, Chairman Boxer, for calling today's hearing, and thank you to our witnesses for coming here today. Last June, when President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan, we learned that he preferred his supporters not engage in straight economic arguments, overpromise on the impacts taking action will have, or debate the validity of the claim that the science is already settled. However, these are exactly the topics that need to be discussed, especially since the legislation that is brought before us appears to endorse certain aspects of the President's misguided Climate Action Plan agenda.

Our witnesses today will speak to the economic realities of climate policies the Administration seeks to put in place to regulate carbon dioxide and other emissions and thereby, in theory, prevent the Earth's climate from changing. The Administration plans to achieve this goal at the expense of hard-working Americans and their families, hoping the suffering such policies have created in other parts of the world will go unnoticed.

It is regularly stated that elections have consequences. As the elections and exit polls showed, the economy is the top concern for voters. Climate is a non-issue. Voters care about having a good job and increasing opportunities for the next generation. They care about putting a roof over their head, being able to heat and cool their homes at affordable prices, and feeding their families. As Dr. Peiser will testify today, climate policies and increased government intervention in energy development have been destructive to European economies and their citizenry, undermining the very things most Americans care about.

What my Democratic colleagues seemingly fail to understand is that policies similar to President Obama's have had major negative effects in certain European countries. Not only have the carbon trading schemes, heavy mandates, and subsidies for otherwise uncompetitive energy technologies been a disaster for energy reliability and economic security, but they have also increased energy poverty and undermined the standard of living for Europe's elderly and low-income families.

Almost one month since the November elections, the President is asking us to follow him down a failed path that puts at risk the standard of living for the vast majority of the Americans we represent. Moreover, the Administration has become so desperate with their climate message that we're supposed to believe the recent "deal" China made with the President is worth commending. Lacking any benchmarks to measure progress or penalties to enforce it, my colleagues across the aisle use the word "deal" even though China does not have to implement a single economically destructive policy, while the United States is supposed to act now. Clearly, this is one of the worst economic policy negotiations in history.

It certainly appears as though growing government mandates and programs that will reward wealthy liberal donors and decrease the standard of living for all other Americans, while simultaneously blocking job-creating projects around the country is the new Democratic standard. If so, perhaps Terry O'Sullivan, President of the Laborers' International Union of North America, was correct when he stated, following the Keystone vote, "The majority of Democrats in the Senate and the White House just don't get it, even though the recent election results surely should have sunk in by now. They have lost their way, their purpose, and their base."

Abundant, affordable, reliable electricity drives economies and raises populations out of poverty. It drives our current manufacturing renaissance and competitive advantage around the world. Take that away, and families, communities, and small businesses all suffer - and suffer unnecessarily for no tangible gain.

Thank you.

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