"Legislative Hearing: S. 2995, The Clean Air Act Amendments of 2010"
March 04, 2010, 10:00 a.m.
Chairman Carper, thank you for holding this hearing today to discuss S. 2995, "The Clean Air Act Amendments of 2010," which you introduced along with Senator Alexander and others. On the day this legislation was introduced, Sen. Voinovich and I released a statement extending a hand of cooperation in passing multi-pollutant legislation. As we said, "The goal of combining greater regulatory certainty under the Clean Air Act with significant advances in public health and the environment is a worthy and attainable one. We stand together today to begin a dialogue aimed at achieving that goal."
Today, I repeat that pledge and I'm sure Sen. Voinovich will do the same. I hope that you, Sen. Carper, as well as Sen. Alexander and others, will join us in trying to reach agreement on this important issue.
There's a good deal of history behind legislative efforts to reduce sulfur dioxides, nitrogen oxides and mercury. I won't belabor that history, but I will note that several of us, including Sen. Carper, made a good faith effort to reach bipartisan agreement on the Clear Skies bill in 2005. Ultimately that didn't happen, and instead we settled for a regulatory approach to reduce emissions. But without explicit authorization from Congress, the regulatory program, known as the Clean Air Interstate Rule, or CAIR, was struck down by the DC Circuit, because EPA lacked the necessary legal authority under the Clean Air Act.
So where do we stand? We have emissions control projects on hold and a depressed allowance trading market. Without a new law from Congress, the ability to secure additional emissions reductions from power plants over the next decade remains unclear. Moreover, EPA is preparing a new emissions rule to answer the DC Circuit's CAIR decision, but, again, without specific legal authorization from Congress, just what EPA can propose in light of that decision is highly uncertain.
We have a heavy burden on our shoulders to get this done. Yet, I believe we can provide EPA with the legal authority it needs to get CAIR up and running again. At the same time, we can find common ground and pass a bipartisan 3-P bill. Now this won't be easy; Sen. Voinovich and I have several concerns about S. 2995. I would say my leading concern is that the bill superimposes fairly strict emissions reductions over a short time frame on top of several impending EPA regulations facing power plants. In my view, we should require significant emission reductions from power plants, but we also should provide flexibility for how those plants meet those targets.
So again, I say to my colleagues, let's work together on achieving the long-sought goal of passing 3-P legislation. This could be a significant milestone that would produce real health benefits as well as ensure affordable, reliable electricity to consumers. Thank you.