Blogs - Blogs
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.

###


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.

 


###

 


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.

###


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.

 

-30-



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.

 

-30-


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.

-30-


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Vitter Summary Statement on Wastewater and Water Management Practices
Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife Hearing on “Innovation and the Utilities of the Future: How Local Water Treatment Facilities Are Leading the Way to Better Manage Wastewater and Water Supplies”
Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you for calling today's hearing. I would also like to thank our witnesses for testifying before the Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife.

The title of today's hearing invokes concepts with which few would disagree. There's no question that the federal government should foster innovative wastewater and water management practices, and that local treatment facilities are and should be leaders in ensuring safe water supplies. Unfortunately, as in so many other areas, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is acting as an impediment to innovation in the water utility sector.

In fact, EPA's hindering of effective water and wastewater treatment is symbolic of a larger, systemic problem throughout the agency. Many Americans view EPA as a rogue agency that imposes its regulatory will in a manner that harms local communities and is contrary to law. Too often creating unnecessary obstacles to technological improvements and progress, EPA's policies serve as a disincentive for innovation throughout the public and private sectors. Water and wastewater management are routinely frustrated by such challenges.

For example, EPA has improperly restricted many wastewater utilities from engaging in a treatment practice known as blending. Blending combines biological, chemical, and physical treatment processes and is used by wastewater facilities to manage large flow variations during major rainfall events. Blending is sometimes necessary during major wet-weather events that would otherwise overwhelm treatment systems, and historically the practice has received support from EPA.

In recent years, however, EPA has enforced a new policy that declares wastewater plant blending operations to be illegal. According to John Hall, one of our witnesses today, the cost of this new prohibition was projected by EPA itself to exceed $200 billion, and the blending ban has "slowed down the ability of communities to safely eliminate untreated overflows, by eliminating a viable, cost-effective option that provided treatment and met permit limits."

Worse yet, EPA's blending ban is an unlawful attempt to circumvent Congress and the agency's own, previously-established rules. As the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals determined in March 2013, EPA violated the Administrative Procedure Act by promulgating blending rules without using the statute's notice and comment procedures. The court also determined EPA's "legislative rule" exceeded the agency's statutory authority under the Clean Water Act.

EPA's illegal blending policy was a demonstrable failure by EPA to work with local communities to manage important water treatment issues, underscoring several fundamental problems with the agency. First, the blending case confirms EPA's disdain for transparency, having attempted to regulate in a manner that directly contradicted the Clean Water Act and established policies. Second, the case illustrates the red-tape and bureaucracy the agency seeks to impose on local communities, which rarely have the financial resources to take on the agency as the sewer systems did here. Third, it is worth noting that EPA has taken the position that this case only applies in the Eighth Circuit, and that the agency has authority to restrict blending on a "case-by-case basis." In other words, through its illegal blending regulation, EPA is now thumbing its nose at the courts, in addition to Congress and local communities.

It should also come as no surprise that EPA's deeply-flawed proposal to revise the definition of "waters of the United States" under the Clean Water Act will make it even more difficult to effectively manage local water resources. The proposed rule would automatically designate "tributaries," impoundments of "tributaries," and "adjacent waters" as "waters of the United States," thereby forcing local communities throughout the country to obtain costly permits just so they can properly manage wastewater and stormwater conveyances. Under the proposed rule, these same communities will no doubt face increased and crippling citizen suit litigation if their regulatory officials do not accede to the relentless demands of hostile environmental NGO's. Notably, for purposes of this hearing, waste treatment systems do not constitute "waters of the United States" under current regulations, but the proposed "waters of the United States" rule would create significant uncertainty about the scope of this long-standing exemption. Another of today's witnesses Jeffrey Longsworth indicated in his written testimony that "EPA's overly prescriptive and unjustified mandates and efforts to expand its Clean Water Act jurisdiction to drainage features within MS4s in contravention of the limitations set forth by Congress in the Act significantly hamper and threaten MS4 operators' ability to efficiently protect local water resources."

EPA's blending policies and its proposed "waters of the United States" rule both demonstrate why the agency's credibility has diminished in recent years. Today's discussion on innovation in water and wastewater management is important and provides a needed opportunity to examine how EPA is impeding local efforts. I appreciate the chairman holding this hearing today, and I look forward to hearing from our witnesses.

-30-


Friday, October 17, 2014

ICYMI: Vitter Op-Ed "Romance in Obamaland: The EPA & NRDC's Beyond Cozy Conspiracy"
Sen. David Vitter, top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, has been investigating the collusion between environmental activists, lawyers and lobbyists, billionaires and their supporting foundations who use large sums of money to influence environmental public policy. Earlier this week, Vitter released emails between top officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including Gina McCarthy, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which demonstrate the very close working relationship between the two organizations to develop the Agency's recently proposed carbon rule for existing power plants. Click here to read more.

Daily Caller
Romance In Obamaland: The EPA and The NRDC's Beyond-Cozy Conspiracy
By David Vitter | October 17, 2014

David Vitter represents Louisiana in the United States Senate. He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1999, was elected to his first term in the Senate in 2004, and was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2010. As a long-time champion for Louisiana jobs created by domestic energy production, Senator Vitter now serves as the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

When a government agency initiates a policy that will affect literally every American family and business, that agency should consider all stakeholders' opinions in a serious, balanced way. It is absolutely inappropriate for one outside organization to have completely dominant influence on that regulatory process. That is simply not how our federal government was intended to operate.

But that's exactly what the EPA allowed in developing its existing source performance standards, the centerpiece of its war on coal and other traditional energy. What's worse, the EPA clearly tried to hide this from the public - until we called them on it.

This week, Republicans on our oversight committee released a series of documents that show just how the Natural Resources Defense Council (the NRDC) played a wildly oversized role in developing President Obama's proposed carbon plan. The NRDC is a far-left environmental group that uses an extremely well-funded litigation and lobbying strategy to force climate polices on the U.S.

Let me break down how this happened.

In 2010, the NRDC and its lawyers and lobbyists sued the EPA to initiate new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. While this might seem a hostile act toward EPA on its face, it was exactly the opposite - a coordinated strategy.

This kabuki dance then allowed the two supposedly opposing sides of the suit - in reality close allies - to settle behind closed doors on December 23, 2010. Practically all of the impacted parties were excluded from the discussions leading up to the settlement. This tactic is commonly referred to as "sue-and-settle."

As a recovering lawyer, I can tell you that in a normal lawsuit, one if not both sides walk away from the courthouse upset. But in this case, the NRDC and the EPA literally congratulated each other gleefully. In an email uncovered by our committee, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy wrote to NRDC's climate policy director, David Doniger: "I really appreciate your support and your patience ... . The success is yours as much as it is mine."

Following the settlement agreement, the NRDC then gave McCarthy and the EPA its carefully drafted proposal to regulate carbon dioxide at existing power plants and to force the entire country into costly compliance. In a June 2011 email exchange, Doninger wrote to Gina McCarthy: "Nice to bump into you yesterday. Here is the presentation we gave to the work group. I want to draw your attention especially to option 2 for existing sources."

Gina McCarthy's response: "Let me take a quick look. I would never say no to a meeting with you."

Sounds like quite a date.

For more details on these damning emails, just go to our committee website at epw.senate.gov.

From then on, the EPA practically cut and pasted the NRDC's proposed carbon plan and made it their own. Perhaps the only part of it that truly originated with the EPA was the EPA's logo inserted on the cover page. Even observers at reliably left-wing outlets like the New York Times have since reported on this unprecedented NRDC role.

When it comes to a major new regulation - especially one that would have devastating economic impacts - there must be an open and honest conversation between the government and the public, including outside organizations and impacted parties. But in this case, only the EPA and the NRDC were truly engaged - leading to a court agreement to regulate the entire U.S. economy. No other voices were heard.

Those at the EPA want you believe they created this rule on their own. They want you to believe that they didn't start working on the rule until President Obama publicly asked them to do so in June 2013. They want you to believe that the public got an equal opportunity to provide feedback starting in June 2014. But none of that is true.

The carbon rule they've concocted will permanently stymie our economy, limit growth, and kill hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country. It will decrease electricity reliability and deal a crushing blow to low-income families and senior citizens as energy poverty becomes the new normal, just as it is in Europe.

And now the voluminous emails and other documents we've uncovered clearly demonstrate the EPA and the NRDC's beyond-cozy relationship that was behind it all.

You have to ask yourself, with regard to the EPA and the NRDC: So who is working for whom? Even more importantly, is anyone in this beyond-cozy conspiracy working for the American people?

David Vitter is the top Republican of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

-30-


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Environmental Collusion: Choosing Climate Policy Over Economic Stability in U.S. Manufacturing

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, has launched the second phase of his investigation into the collusion between environmental activists, lawyers and lobbyists, billionaires and their supporting foundations who use large sums of money to influence environmental public policy.

From farmers to miners to rig workers to manufacturers and fishermen, EPW Republicans have been examining how the jobs in those industries and their way of life are being targeted by well-funded environmental activists whose primary goal is maximizing government control, particularly over the land, water, and resources utilized by private industries and individuals. Today's focus is on manufacturing.

The U.S. manufacturing industry supports over 17 million jobs in the United States, and taken alone it would be the 10th largest economy in the world.[1]  American manufacturing is tied closely to the health of the middle class, providing high-paying jobs in the areas of the country that need them most. [2]  Unfortunately, since 2000, American manufacturing has lost 5.8 million jobs.[3]  While members across the political spectrum agree that a reinvigorated manufacturing sector would help the middle class, there is a major disconnect between this goal and the policies of the Obama Administration and far-left environmental groups that make it more difficult to secure better paying and more middle class jobs.[4]  A Louisiana petroleum engineer recently summed up this intellectual discrepancy, explaining, "There's a huge disconnect between quality of life and opposition to the oil and gas industry."[5]

Since 2010, the manufacturing industry has only been able to hire back 526,000 employees,[6] many of which are directly attributable to the shale gas revolution.[7]   Despite the vast economic and job creation benefits of shale gas, those on the far-left view cheap natural gas as a threat to their policy goals of limiting fossil fuel production and forcing an increase in the use of their preferred and more expensive energy sources, like solar and wind.  Harvard Professor Samuel Myers, a close contemporary of former EPA regional administrator James Martin and other far-left environmentalists, made this anti-natural gas sentiment clear when he stated, "I suspect that cheap gas is just what we don't want because it will make it very hard for renewables to compete and then the entirely wrong price signal to anyone thinking in alternative energy technologies.  I think what we want is expensive gas and a ban on coal fired power."[8]

Choosing Climate Policy Over Economic Growth

"Responding to climate change requires that we break every rule in the free-market playbook and that we do so with great urgency. We will need to rebuild the public sphere, reverse privatizations, relocalize large parts of economies, scale back overconsumption, bring back long-term planning, heavily regulate and tax corporations, maybe even nationalize some of them, cut military spending and recognize our debts to the global South."[9] - Naomi Klein, 2011.

Working hand-in-glove with the Obama Administration, far-left environmental organizations are laboring to implement policies that obstruct growth of the manufacturing sector, block domestic natural gas production, and shrink the economy,[10] while simultaneously expanding federal government control.  According to Naomi Klein, a poster child of the far-left environmental movement and frequent recipient of grants from the Billionaire's Club,[11] we must choose between a strong economy and combating climate change. In 2011 she said, "There is a growing body of economic research on the conflict between economic growth and sound climate policy."  Referring to attendees of the Heartland Institute's Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, she drove the point home: "So when the Heartlanders react to evidence of human-induced climate change as if capitalism itself were coming under threat, it's not because they are paranoid. It's because they are paying attention."[12]  These views were recently echoed in a 350.org video, which promotes the idea of "planet before profit."[13]

Expanding Federal Authority with Over-Regulation

One of the principal tools intended to be utilized to shut down the manufacturing industry is regulation via the Clean Air Act (CAA).  The CAA is responsible for the many successes we have seen in the last forty years, including major reductions in dangerous pollutants.[14]  Despite these broadly supported successes, the EPA is now attempting to dramatically expand its regulatory authority with increasingly superficial benefits claims, while ignoring significant costs.[15] The climate benefits in EPA's CO2 regulations (as called for in the President's Climate Action Plan) are calculated using the Social Cost of Carbon estimates that were developed behind closed doors by a select group of unelected Washington bureaucrats at the urging of the environmental left.[16]  Outside groups, like the Energy Foundation and Merck Family Fund - both members of the Billionaire's Club, use their resources to support EPA's absurd "benefits" in analytic reports and national lobbying campaigns.[17]

Another tactic to expand federal regulation is known as the "sue and settle" method.  A precedential "sue and settle" arrangement occurred between the EPA and the American Lung Association (ALA) over the 1990 Amendments of the Clean Air Act.[18] The settlement agreement led to expediting the first particulate (PM) and ozone standards, which make manufacturing more expensive.  Since the initial standard was put in place, the supposed benefits of that standard have been used to justify the multitude of additional air regulations over the past twenty years.[19]  Unfortunately, EPA continues to refuse to make the underlying data public,[20] and so there is no way to independently verify the benefits claims.[21]

The potential impacts of a lower ozone standard include a reduction in GDP of $270 billion per year and lost jobs averaging 2.9 million per year.  In addition, a lower ozone standard will result in increased natural gas and electricity costs for manufacturers and American families.[22]  In close coordination with the EPA, the ALA has helped coordinate EPA's rollout of PM benefits claims as well as responses to litigation in an effort to clamp down on energy production.[23]  The many regulations that are now set to shut down coal fired power plants[24] go well beyond the EPA's original claims.[25]  In spite of all these negative consequences of EPA's activities, the looming ozone standards are likely to have the most significant impact on manufacturing.[26]

Targeting Successful Technologies

Despite the significant headwinds of EPA's regulatory prowess and the persistent litigation by wealthy environmental activists, advances in two drilling technologies have significantly undermined their anti-manufacturing agenda.[27]  Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have made it possible to advance access to abundant domestic energy resources that were otherwise inaccessible just a few years ago.[28]  Accordingly, the United States is seeing a resource boom that is working to lower domestic fossil energy prices, which benefits manufacturing.  In addition to lower energy prices, domestic fossil fuel production is providing an abundance of the base materials that are needed to manufacture every important product that our modern society makes and utilizes.  Every iPad, computer, television, and automobile in use today and every piece of advanced medical equipment that is saving lives is made from materials that are mined, refined, and/or manufactured from or utilizing fossil resources.[29]  Even solar panels and wind turbines include products made from fossil fuels.[30]

At the end of the day, the EPA and their environmental allies[31] recognize the success of these technologies and have big plans for over-regulation and limiting access to the domestic oil and gas resources that fuel the manufacturing sector.  Looming regulations coming from EPA and litigation by its allies are clearly targeted at undermining advanced drilling technologies, and as a consequence, our manufacturing sector and middle class are in the cross hairs.  Accordingly, the coordinated war on hydraulic fracturing is also undermining the U.S. manufacturing industry.[32]

EPW Republicans have been detailing exactly how these coordinated efforts are destroying jobs and punishing industries and families across America. Previous editions include:

 

-30-




[1] http://www.nam.org/~/media/AF4039988F9241C09218152A709CD06D.ashx

[2] http://www.manufacturing.net/articles/2014/03/manufacturing-the-decline-of-the-middle-class

[3] Id.

[4] http://www.ajc.com/news/business/report-manufacturing-key-to-middle-class-health/ngK2r/

[5] http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/07/helis_oil_talks_about_st_tamma.html

[6] Id.

[7] http://www.investing.com/analysis/u.s.-manufacturing-renaissance-finally-happening-227257

[8] http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=5356b97c-5051-4dbd-a7e7-af41115764f8

[9] http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate?page=0,0

[10] http://washingtonexaminer.com/how-camouflaged-activists-want-to-de-industrialize-the-west/article/2554201

[11] Rockefeller Brothers Fund IRS Form 990, 2011; Wallace Global Fund IRS Form 990, 2011; Schmidt Family Foundation IRS Form 990, 2011, 2012.

[12] http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate?page=0,0

[13] http://350.org/a-new-economic-paradigm-is-not-only-possible-but-plausible/

[14] http://www.epa.gov/air/caa/progress.html

[15] http://science.house.gov/press-release/icymi-tceq-criticism-epa-air-pollution-science; http://www.regulations.gov/#%21documentDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OAR-2007-0492-9522

[16] http://www.nrdc.org/media/2012/120917.asp

[17] http://www.analysisgroup.com/uploadedFiles/Publishing/Articles/Analysis_Group_EPA_Clean_Power_Plan_Report.pdf

[18] http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressRoom.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=8C1A4F79-ECA0-F9D2-9636-B7286F3389A5

[19] https://www.uschamber.com/blog/these-9-charts-put-federal-regulations-different-light

[20] http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressRoom.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=28FBCAF8-BFE1-6D91-5EC8-DA554F9FA85F

[21] Id.

[22] http://www.nam.org/~/media/29876087653A4D74BFE191551FC024EC.ashx

[23] http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=d83e9197-13d9-423d-93b1-38d0a47cecfa

[24] http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/utility/utilitypg.html

[25] http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-672

[26] http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=03ca1d5b-0f78-f77b-00d1-2dd279fc6db7&Region_id=&Issue_id=

[27] http://energyindepth.org/national/hydraulic-fracturing-good-news-for-americas-economy/

[28] http://www.ncsl.org/documents/energy/frackingguide_060512.pdf

[29] http://www-tc.pbs.org/independentlens/classroom/wwo/petroleum.pdf

[30] Id.

[31] http://washingtonexaminer.com/the-hidden-persuaders-of-the-environmental-elite/article/2551714

[32] http://capitolcityproject.com/meet-group-quietly-propelling-anti-fracking-movement/


Majority Office
410 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.Washington, DC 20510-6175
phone: 202-224-6176
Minority Office
456 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.Washington, DC 20510-6175
phone: 202-224-8832