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Senate EPW Approves Six Bills, Four GSA Resolutions After Dems Walk Out of Morning Business Meeting

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R–Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, praised the passage of the following pieces of legislation today after a Senate EPW full committee markup:

S. 1324, the Affordable Reliable Electricity Now Act of 2015 (ARENA Act)

The ARENA Act, strikes EPA’s recently finalized regulations for new, modified, reconstructed and existing power plants. The bill prevents the agency from mandating technology that does not yet exist for new sources and requires EPA to take into account and submit a report to Congress detailing the impact any future regulations issued pursuant to section 111 of the Clean Air Act will have on the climate as well as domestic and global emissions. This bipartisan bill, introduced by Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) with 35 current cosponsors, also delays states from having to spend resources complying with any rule until after legal questions are settled and allows Governors of a state to opt-out of a rule if it is found to have adverse impacts on their local economies, energy systems and ratepayers.  

"The Democrats’ decision to walk out on the EPW Committee markup was a complete surprise, but it also affirms that liberal Democrats are not committed to addressing the flaws in the president’s carbon mandates,” said Inhofe. "Despite maintaining my tradition as Chairman to not restrict time on amendment consideration or comments on legislation, Democrats refused to allow the committee to operate in regular order in voting on the bipartisan ARENA Act, as well as six other pieces of legislation and four GSA resolutions. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito's ARENA Act has 35 cosponsors, and for two hours we considered Democrat amendments to the bill. Once it came time for the vote, Ranking Member Barbara Boxer completed the Democrats’ walkout by voicing for the first time her desire for S.1500, an unrelated bill to the current debate, to be pulled from the committee markup. The ARENA Act is a common-sense, bipartisan piece of legislation that would send the Obama administration’s carbon mandates back to the drawing board where it should be reconsidered with publicly available science and adequate public input. EPW Republicans proceeded to pass the ARENA Act at a 2PM business meeting which will now make it available to the Majority Leader for proper consideration and debate on the Senate floor this fall."


The Senate EPW Committee also approved the following bills and four GSA resolutions:

S. 1500, the Sensible Environmental Protection Act of 2015

This bill, supported by committee members from both sides of the aisle and introduced by Sens. Mike Crapo, John Barrasso, John Boozman, Jim Inhofe, Deb Fischer, Tom Carper and others would amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) the Clean Water Act (CWA) regarding the regulation of the use of pesticides.  More specifically, it would eliminate duplicative permitting under FIFRA and the CWA for the discharge into navigable waters of pesticide residues or pesticides if the pesticide is already authorized for sale, distribution, or use under FIFRA.  The bill includes exceptions to this prohibition including discharges resulting from the use of pesticides in violation of FIFRA, stormwater discharges regulated under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), and discharges of manufacturing or industrial effluent, treatment works effluent, and discharges incidental to the normal operation of a vessel.  This bill would also require the EPA to submit a report to Congress.  EPA originally did not require permits under both statutes, however, following a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, ultimately issued a general permit under the CWA.  This bill clarifies the duplicative permitting is not required under the CWA and FIFRA as EPA originally determined.

S. 1523, A bill to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to reauthorize the National Estuary Program, and for other purposes.

This bill amends the Clean Water Act (CWA) to reauthorize the National Estuary Program, and for other purposes.  This bill, introduced by Sens. Whitehouse and Vitter, amends Section 320 of the Clean Water Act to reauthorize the National Estuary Program (NEP) at $27 million per year through FY2020.  The NEP was last authorized at $35 million per year through FY2010.  The bill further reforms the program by placing caps on administrative expenses for the first time.  The NEP is a grant program, established under the 1987 Clean Water Act Amendments, intended to promote the development and implementation of long-term comprehensive management plans for the protection of “nationally significant” estuaries in the United States.  The EPA determines whether an estuary is “nationally significant.”  Once accepted an estuary then becomes eligible for technical assistance and grant funding.  Currently, there are 28 estuaries that have been incorporated into the NEP.  H.R. 944, which is effectively identical to S. 1523, passed the House by voice vote on June 1, 2015.

S. 1707, A bill to designate the Federal building located at 617 Walnut Street in Helena, Arkansas, as the "Jacob Trieber Federal Building, United States Post Office, and United States Court House"

Jacob Trieber was the first Jewish man to serve as a federal judge in the United States. He served from 1900 to 1927 as a judge for the U.S. Circuit Court in the Eastern District of Arkansas.  He presided over more than 1,000 cases annually, kept his docket current, and had time to serve many assignments outside his own district. He issued nationally important rulings on controversies that included antitrust cases, railroad litigation, prohibition cases, and mail fraud; some of his rulings, such as those regarding civil rights and wildlife conservation, have an important impact still today.  He was also an active member of his community, including serving time on the Helena City Council and as the Phillips County Treasurer.

HR. 2131, A bill to designate the Federal building and United States courthouse located at 83 Meeting Street in Charleston, South Carolina, as the "J. Waties Waring Judicial Center"

Julius Waties Waring, was born July 27, 1880 in Charleston, South Carolina and graduated from the College of Charleston in 1900. He became an attorney and, after practicing in Charleston for several decades, was nominated by President Franklin Roosevelt to the U.S. District Court in 1941.  In 1952, in his most famous opinion, Judge Waring dissented from the ruling in Briggs v. Elliott, arguing that “separate but equal” was unconstitutional. While a dissenting opinion at the time, on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, his opinion would form the basis of the unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which struck down racial segregation in all public schools in America.  He retired from the bench in 1952, left his hometown and moved to New York.  The courthouse is currently named after Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings.  Sen. Hollings requested this name change to honor Judge Waring.

HR 2559, To designate the "PFC Milton A. Lee Medal of Honor Memorial Highway" in the State of Texas

PFC Milton L. Lee joined the Army in in San Antonio, Texas in 1967.  He served in Vietnam as a member of the 101st Army Airborne Division.  He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his brave service where he risked his life above the call of duty and was killed in combat while heroically saving numerous American lives and single-handedly destroying an enemy position.  He died at the age of 19.  The Texas Department of Transportation has reviewed this legislation and has no objections to the proposal. This bill unanimously passed the House of Representatives 389-0.