Click here to watch Ranking Member Capito’s opening remarks from the committee hearing.

– Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing titled, “U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Proposed Fiscal Year 2025 Budget” with EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) as delivered.

“Thank you Chairman Carper. Welcome, Administrator Regan, it’s nice to see you again. Saw you last week, get to see you twice in a month.

“The chairman started off his remarks the same way I would start my remarks and that’s you can tell a lot about policy priorities of an administration by reviewing its budget and the actions that it takes. This is where our statements will diverge.

“Many of the concerns I will raise today are the same ones I raised last year, and I am frustrated not to have seen more of a course correction by the agency over the past years.

“If anything, the EPA has accelerated the pace of economically crippling, unrealistic regulations that it has issued, with the total regulatory costs imposed by the Biden EPA now approaching $1 trillion.

“Chief among my concerns is the group of six regulations that make up the EPA’s Electric Generating Unit, or Power Sector, Strategy.

“Your intent with these regulations is pretty clear: impose new, costly federal mandates in a short period of time to make continued investment in baseload power plants uneconomic.

“This is Round 2 of the Obama administration’s ‘war on coal’ except the Biden administration is issuing even more regulations at an even greater cost, than President Obama did, and this time, the war is not just against coal, but also against natural gas and American manufacturing.

“By issuing the rules individually, the EPA has tried to hide the total, cumulative costs to businesses and the American people of its Power Sector Strategy.

“But their collective, potential harm of them is, for me, daunting and real.

“The agency’s rules threaten the availability of reliable, affordable electricity, at a time when Americans’ pocketbooks are already being hit by inflation worsened by this administration’s policies.

“During each of the rulemakings, energy and reliability experts sounded the alarm about the damaging effects each of the rules could have on our grid.

“At the end of last year, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation identified the six power sector rules under development as having ‘the potential to influence generators to seek deactivation despite a projected resource adequacy or operating reliability risk.’

“The EPA has made half-hearted attempts to claim it has addressed reliability concerns.

“Last year, at the same time as the EPA released the final so-called ‘Good Neighbor’ Rule, the agency announced a joint ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ with the Department of Energy to coordinate to ensure reliability is not harmed by the agencies’ regulatory actions.

“The EPA touted how the MOU would provide a ‘robust and durable framework for continued interagency coordination and consultation on electric reliability issues at a time of significant dynamism in the power sector.’

“I do thank the agency for responding to an oversight letter I sent asking about the MOU.

“In that response, however, the EPA stated that it has held a total of three meetings with NERC and regional transmission organizations and independent service operators.

“Three meetings, that’s it, in just over a year.

“The letter confirms that this initiative is little more than window-dressing, and not a genuine attempt to address the root of the EPA’s self-created reliability problem.

“Demand for baseload power from data centers, AI, and the forced transition to EVs is quickly rising and projected to balloon, and the EPA regulations will cause the baseload power supply to shutter.

“It’s not rocket science to see the problem, demand is going up and supply will be going down.

“And electric reliability is not the only area where the agency’s regulations are ignoring reality.

“I have repeatedly said that we need the EPA to finalize reasonable drinking water standards to protect Americans from exposure to PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS.

“But after taking three years, which I thought was way too long, to develop the standards, the standards that the EPA ultimately released raised more questions.

“The agency has set extremely low parts per trillion standards that do not align with levels that other countries have set, it lacks robust scientific support, and do not fully consider the financial strains for compliance, particularly for rural and historically disadvantaged communities.

“And the strains will only be worsened by the recent CERCLA designation.

“The EPA had a real opportunity here in the PFAS space to set durable, science-based standards to remedy a real environmental concern.

“I would have been strongly supportive of a drinking water standard similar to the Obama administration’s health advisory level.

“And addressing PFAS through other environmental statutes prior to finalizing CERCLA hazardous substances designations would have mitigated the unintended consequences that EPA’s approach will have on local water systems, airports, landfill operators, and other passive receivers. And we’ve had at least one and maybe two hearings that have expressed the concerns about this. 

“I am disappointed that EPA chose to make regulatory decisions based on the most extreme voices in the debate, rather than finalize sound and practical regulations.

“Foundational environmental laws, such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, are based on the principle of cooperative federalism.

“Typically, states lead in managing environmental protection within their borders, while the EPA provides support and only steps in when the state does not act.

“But the Biden EPA has not followed that framework in a number of cases, including the so-called Good Neighbor Rule that I have already mentioned.

“Despite federal court[s] of appeals repeatedly stopping this rule from going into effect, the EPA has not recognized the legal failings of the rule, quite the opposite actually.

“Because in January, the EPA chose to double down on executive overreach and proposed to add five more states to its illegal regulation.

“Recent actions by Region 3 of the EPA in my home state present another especially troubling example of the agency’s disregard for states’ authority.

“After a year of closed-door negotiations, without even notifying our West Virginia regulators, the EPA announced a consent decree with activist environmentalist groups to impose Total Maximum Daily Loads, TMDLs, on 11 streams in West Virginia.

“Lastly, and you and I talked about this at least week’s hearing before the Appropriations Committee, I remain very concerned about the risk of waste, fraud, and abuse as the EPA manages the unprecedented $41.5 billion in the Democrats’ so-called Inflation Reduction Act.

“The EPA has announced plans to obligate all of this funding for its largest IRA program, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, or Green Bank, which amounts to $27 billion, between now and the end of September.

“I would note that $27 billion is nearly three times the total amount of appropriations the EPA receives each year, it’s an astronomical sum of money.

“I fear the EPA will make a lot of mistakes in the rush to get this money out.

“Now, your response to me, I'll go off script here. Your response to me last week was that you're simply granting this money down to eight different entities across the country. That said to me, ‘Well, they're the ones who are going to be responsible for the waste, fraud and abuse.’

“I think it's the EPA’s responsibility and we need adequate oversight by an inspector general.

 “On that, I will turn it back to Chairman Carper.”

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