Matt Dempsey (202) 224-9797

Katie Brown (202) 224-2160      

Opening Statement of Senator James M. Inhofe

Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety hearing entitled, "Review of Recent Environmental Protection Agency Air Standards for Hydraulically Fractured Natural Gas Wells and Oil and Natural Gas Storage."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012  10:00 AM

Today's hearing to review EPA's air rules highlights the ongoing war being waged by the Obama administration against fossil fuels and the development of America's abundant domestic energy resources.  Ironically,  this hearing comes at a time when President Obama's top environmental team is in Rio working on polices that would significantly weaken this country and which have failed time and time again - not only in the U.S. Congress but in the arena of public opinion as well. It is also important to mention that this hearing comes while Congress is in the middle of a debate about the Obama-EPA's economically devastating Utility MACT rule designed to kill coal in America, effectively waging open war against an industry which supplies our economy with thousands of jobs and affords us cheap and reliable domestic energy.

Oil and gas production in America is increasing despite the Obama administration's best efforts to shut down domestic energy production in favor of their radical green agenda.  They are working to stop hydraulic fracturing through 13 federal agencies and have attempted to implement their agenda to "crucify" American energy producers.  We got a glimpse of this "crucify" philosophy in a rare moment of honesty from a former Obama EPA Regional Administrator and, unfortunately, we have seen this approach played out across the country.

Because of EPA's unprecedented actions in Parker County, Texas, I launched an investigation which began with a letter to the Agency on April 25.  I am extremely disappointed that despite my attempt to conduct oversight as the ranking member of the authorizing committee with jurisdiction over the Agency, EPA has met my request with a disappointing lack of responsiveness and transparency.  Almost two months after sending the letter, I have received no response from EPA whatsoever, let alone the comprehensive and substantive answers required to ensure legitimate Congressional oversight of an agency that is becoming increasingly rogue and defiant.

Due to the importance of this investigation and EPA's lack of cooperation, I am pleased to announce today that I, along with Senators Vitter, Boozman, Coburn, Cornyn, and Hutchison - that is every Republican from EPA Region 6 - have sent a letter formally requesting that the EPA Inspector General launch an official investigation into EPA's actions in Parker County, Texas.

Hydraulic fracturing has been used on more than 1 million wells since it was first performed over 60 years ago just outside of Duncan, Oklahoma.  The practice has always been safely regulated by the states and, as a matter of fact, in February, one of our witnesses was quoted in a New York Times article discussing who should be responsible for regulating hydraulic fracturing. Fred Krupp said, "Given the dysfunction in DC, a state-by-state approach will be more effective." This is a statement I very much agree with.  Despite ongoing efforts by EPA to manufacture a link between hydraulic fracturing and groundwater contamination - including an ongoing water study which many have raised serious concerns over - EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson admitted in April "In no cases have we made a definitive determination that the fracking process has causes chemicals to enter groundwater."

The rules we are discussing today are little more than a thinly-veiled attempt to regulate greenhouse gases from hydraulic fracturing and are an obvious attempt to wrest power from states' control and instead place it in the hands of the federal government. They are critically flawed and are predicated on faulty and inaccurate data and analysis that over-exaggerates emissions -in some estimates more than 1,400 percent. Additionally, these rules mandate the use of technologies that are not readily available and further exaggerate emissions through an inadequate accounting of production and gathering facilities.

The combination of hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling has led to an American energy revitalization that has created thousands of American jobs, brought in revenues to state, local, and federal governments, and helped enhance our nation's energy security. It has occurred in states that effectively and efficiently regulate hydraulic fracturing absent unnecessary federal impediments. Current efforts by the Obama administration are designed to eliminate hydraulic fracturing by putting more and more authority over the process into the hands of the federal government. States have successfully regulated this practice for over 60 years and are in the best position to protect their citizens and understand their unique challenges and geologies. For these reasons, we should keep the states in charge of hydraulic fracturing and continue the benefits to consumers, jobs, economic growth and expansion, and our nation's energy security that have resulted from the safe and responsible development of America's vast resources.

I would like to thank our witnesses for coming today, particularly Darren Smith from Devon Energy, and I look forward to hearing the testimony.