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Inhofe: Let's Stop Obama EPA Job-Killing Agenda
June 10, 2010

Contact: Matt Dempsey Matt_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-9797

Statement by Senator Inhofe on Motion to Proceed to S.J. Res 26

As Prepared for Delivery - June 10, 2010

 

Before I get into the history behind EPA's endangerment finding and the Murkowski resolution, I want to address something we've heard from senators on the other side of the aisle.  It is this: the Murkowski resolution is a Big Oil bailout that will allow oil companies such as BP to pollute the air. 

Where to begin untangling the web of inaccuracies?  Well, for one thing, I'm not sure how a Big Oil Bailout could be supported by:

- The American Association of Housing Services for the Aging

- Family Dairies USA

- The Farm Bureau

- The National Federation of Independent Business

- The Brick Industry Association

- The National Association of Manufacturers

- Associated Builders and Contractors

- The American Health Care Association

- The Arkansas Rice Federation

- The North Dakota Chamber of Commerce

- The Ohio Trucking Association

- Governors of 21 states 

The list goes on and on.  Do members on the other side of the aisle really believe that these groups have been duped, that what they are really supporting is nothing more than a sop to BP and Big Oil?  This is simply insulting to the citizens all across the country who support the Murkowski resolution for one simple reason: it will stop the greatest bureaucratic intrusion into the lives of the American people, and it will stop a wave of crippling regulations that will send jobs to China and make consumers pay more for gasoline, food, and just about everything else. 

Don't be fooled by the empty rhetoric.  Some unfortunately are exploiting the tragedy in the Gulf to advance a political agenda rooted in the belief that fossil fuels are a destructive nuisance that must be eradicated.  And it sees an unrelenting bureaucracy and regulation as the means of realizing a future without them.  But that belief, if carried out in the form of EPA's impending greenhouse gas regulatory regime, will mean a radical change to our way of life-a change that will mean fewer jobs, fewer American businesses, higher taxes, energy rationing, and more control of people's lives by a massive, unforgiving bureaucracy in Washington.

So understand that this resolution presents a fundamental challenge to that view-in the final analysis, it seeks to prevent EPA from realizing that radical agenda.  As with health care, the Obama Administration, through the endangerment finding, is on the verge of taking over yet another facet of our economy.  This resolution, if passed, will prevent that from happening.

The debate over the Murkowski resolution began even before the resolution was introduced in January.  It really began 11 years ago, when the International Center for Technology Assessment, along with 18 other organizations, petitioned EPA to regulate greenhouse gases from cars and trucks under the Clean Air Act.

That petition went to then-EPA Administrator Carol Browner, but she never acted on it.  And that was really no surprise, considering the US Senate, just two years earlier, voted 95 to 0 against the ruinous Kyoto Protocol.

So the decision on the petition carried over into the Bush Administration.  In 2003, the Bush EPA denied the petition, which prompted a predictable raft of lawsuits by some states and environmental groups.

The case-called Massachusetts v. EPA-made its way to the Supreme Court, which in 2007 ruled that CO2 is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, and that EPA must make a fundamental decision: either greenhouse gases from cars and trucks "endanger" public health and welfare or they don't; or the science is so uncertain that it can't make a decision either way.

The clock ran out on the Bush Administration, so this critical question of "endangerment" under the Clean Air Act carried over into the Obama Administration.  In December last year, to no one's surprise, the Obama EPA decreed that there is in fact endangerment.

This decision has far-reaching implications for how we use energy, how this country is governed, how businesses are regulated and controlled, and how we conduct our daily lives.

Make no mistake: despite testimony to the contrary by senior officials, the Obama Administration was not forced by the Supreme Court to choose endangerment.  As I noted, they had a choice, and they made the wrong choice. They chose to make an endangerment finding based on the flawed scientific conclusions of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC.

By now everyone in this body is familiar with the work of the IPCC.  This is the UN body that represents-at least according to some-the so-called "scientific consensus" that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are causing catastrophic climate change.  But the Climategate scandal shattered the consensus once and for all.

I won't delve into great detail about this episode.  In a report released earlier this year, the Minority Staff of the Senate EPW Committee found that Climategate scientists tried to manipulate key temperature datasets to predetermined conclusions about climate change.

Climategate scientists-again, these are no ordinary scientists; they are supposedly the best and brightest of the climate community-refused to share their work with those who disagreed with it; they undermined peer-review by blocking publication of legitimate work by skeptics; and they trashed the reputations of anyone who dared question their findings.

An independent inquiry conducted by the UK's Information Commissioner concluded that the scientists employed by the University of East Anglia, and who were at the center of the Climategate controversy, violated the UK's Freedom of Information Act.

The Climategate scandal forced open the inner sanctums of the IPCC, and the public finally saw the political science the body had produced.  I could go on for hours on the embarrassing litany of errors and mistakes, but I won't; it's not necessary. We don't need to debate science on the floor today.  There are varying opinions about what the science is telling us even in the Republican Conference.  I accept that and respect my colleagues who differ with me. 

What's important today is focusing on where we agree.  And we agree that EPA regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act is a monumental mistake that will shackle the American economy with job-killing regulations and higher energy taxes. 

Let me be blunt: EPA's growing regulatory regime will lead to one of the greatest bureaucratic intrusions into the lives of the American people.  Peter Glaser, an attorney with Troutman Sanders, and one of the foremost Clean Air Act attorneys in the country, said that EPA's endangerment finding will lead to federal regulation of schools, hospitals, nursing homes, commercial buildings, churches, restaurants, hotels, malls, colleges and universities, food processing facilities, farms, sports arenas, soda manufacturers, bakers, brewers, wineries, and many others. 

Imagine heading to church on Sunday to find the doors locked because it couldn't afford to install Best Available Control Technology on its boiler.  Of course EPA dismisses this and similar examples as nothing more than empty scare tactics.  Besides, they contend, we exempted those facilities in our tailoring rule-that's right, they're out, so don't worry.

EPA fails to mention that the Clean Air Act contains very specific emissions thresholds for regulated pollutants, and CO2 will be "subject to regulation" starting January 2, 2011.  Under a program to maintain air quality, facilities that emit more than 250 tons per year of a given pollutant must obtain a Prevention of Significant Deterioration, or PSD, permit before they can build or make major modifications to existing facilities. 

As I noted, 250 tons is a big number for traditional pollutants such as SO2 or NOx.  But not for CO2.  A large commercial building, for example, emits about 100,000 tons of CO2 a year.  We're talking about 6 million sources potentially subject to EPA regulation. 

To get around this unmitigated administrative and economic disaster, EPA just changes the rules.  That's right: it merely decreed that regulations would apply only to facilities that emit more than 100,000 tons starting next year.  That threshold would be tweaked over time and apply to sources at differing stages.  But the point is clear: EPA can't just change the unambiguous intent of Congress.  250 tons is 250 tons.

So don't be fooled: EPA can't wave away inconvenient provisions in the Clean Air Act with a regulatory wand.  EPA's so-called tailoring rule is now the focus of 14 lawsuits.  It seems almost certain that the DC Circuit will overturn it and force EPA to grapple with the regulatory nightmare of its own creation.

Again, I warn those who take comfort in the exemptions provided in the tailoring rule.  Those exemptions will be short-lived, for the simple reason that the courts will strike it down.  And even if they don't, EPA has committed to eventually lower the thresholds to capture small sources.  So one way or another, if you think you're out, it's likely at some point you'll be in.

What are the economic impacts?  We're just getting a handle on them.  According to EPA's own documents, PSD permits cost an average of $125,120 and impose a burden of 866 hours on the applicant.  In addition, the nation largest employers, such as refineries, electric utilities and industrial manufacturing facilities, will be forced to install (currently undefined) best available control technology (BACT) at their plants to reduce CO2. 

This requirement is creating uncertainty, and employers are reluctant to hire and expand, until this mess is sorted out.   And don't forget about the prospect of lawsuits.  I'll bet the farm environmental groups fan out across the country and sue facilities they don't like.  None of this can be good for those out of work and looking for a job.

The tailoring rule is one reason some may choose to vote against the Murkowski resolution.  There are other stated reasons for opposition that I want to address, because I believe they are pretexts that can't justify opposition to this resolution.

I mentioned the science supporting the endangerment finding-some will argue today that overturning the finding through the Congressional Review Act amounts to an indictment of the IPCC- backed scientific consensus.   But let's understand what's at issue here: we are stopping EPA from undertaking the most unprecedented bureaucratic intrusion into the lives of the American people.

Frankly, one's view of the science here is irrelevant.  As Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has noted, Congress is removing the legal force and effect of the endangerment finding.  The resolution says nothing about the reasoning EPA employed, or the substance of that reasoning, to reach the scientific conclusions supporting the endangerment finding.  So opposing the Murkowski resolution because you oppose overturning science is not a legitimate basis of opposition.

Another excuse for voting against the resolution is that overturning endangerment will mean removing the authority of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to set Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE).   More specifically, some argue, it would undo the historic auto deal reached last May between the auto companies, the White House, EPA, DOT, and California.  The only problem with this argument is that it's wrong.

Just ask the Obama Administration.  "As a strictly legal matter," according to a February 19 letter by Kevin Vincent, NHTSA's general counsel, "the Murkowski resolution does not directly impact NHTSA's statutory authority to set fuel economy standards under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), as amended by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007(EISA)." 

So we're hearing that this resolution will revoke the new CAFE standards and increase the amount of oil we consume.  It's patently false to assert NHTSA can't continue to work on, and then implement, the CAFE standards Congress passed in 2007.  That's what it's doing now, and will continue to do regardless of what happens here today.

I hope that what happens here is that we vote to overturn EPA's endangerment finding.  If we don't, that doesn't mean we stop here.  We will continue to pursue all of our options to stop, delay, and obstruct EPA from overtaking our nation's energy sector and directing and controlling the minutiae of our daily lives.

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June 2010 Speeches

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