WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), questioned Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt at a committee hearing titled “Oversight Hearing to Receive Testimony from Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.”
Barrasso questioned Pruitt on the agency’s inaction on 46 “exceptional events” in Wyoming; the EPA’s timeline for withdrawing the proposed rule on in situ uranium production; and the goals and metrics that the administrator has set for himself in 2018.
On the EPA’s Inaction on 46 Exceptional Events in Wyoming:
“Administrator Pruitt, I want to thank you again for implementing a new vision at the EPA that takes state input seriously. We are certainly feeling that at home in Wyoming.
“Wyoming has a very experienced Department of Environmental Quality. Wyoming strives to use the best representative air quality data available.
“To make sound regulatory decisions on issues like ozone protection, regional haze, and permits for industrial facilities, I think it is very critical to have good data.
“As a result, Wyoming spends a lot of time and resources to review data and determine when so-called ‘exceptional events’ occur. An exceptional event might be a wildfire, causing air pollution levels to seem high.
“Under the Clean Air Act, states and EPA are supposed to exclude data collected during these exceptional events because they don’t represent everyday circumstances.
“From 2011 to 2014, my state identified many exceptional events. We asked the EPA to recognize these events and exclude the data from these time periods from regulatory decisions.
“In 2016, the EPA refused to act on 46 of Wyoming’s identified exceptional events between 2011 and 2014.
“Because this previous administration failed to act, my home state faces real consequences. The failure to act is going to make it seem like there are ‘violations’ of air quality that have occurred, creating the perception that there are air quality problems when there really are not.
“This could lead the EPA to base future decisions on bad data that can interfere with permitting and put some restrictions on Wyoming’s economy.
“I sent a recent letter to you explaining the situation that the EPA had not yet acted on our filing. I ask if you had a timeline for when the EPA will be acting on Wyoming’s 46 exceptional event filings?”
Click here for video of Chairman Barrasso questioning Administrator Pruitt on Wyoming’s exceptional events.
On the Agency’s Timeline for Withdrawing Proposed Rule on In Situ Uranium Recovery:
“Last month, I sent you a letter asking the EPA to withdraw its proposed rule on in situ uranium recovery – the I-S-R.
“The thing that’s interesting about this rule is this is a rule the Obama administration proposed on January 19, 2017 –one day before President Obama left office.
“Since then, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission –our nation’s principal regulator on these activities –has stated there is-‘no health or safety justification’ for this rulemaking by the EPA that came out one day before President Obama left office.
“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission went on to say that ‘In almost 40 years of operational experience, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff is aware of no documented instance of ISR, in situ uranium recovery, wellfield being the source of contamination of an adjacent or nearby aquifer, or of non-exempt portion of the same aquifer in which ISR activities are being conducted.’
“No documented instance. Wyoming produces more uranium than any other state. Uranium production is vital to our energy and national security.
“When can we expect EPA to decide whether or not to scrap this unnecessary regulation?”
Click here for video of Chairman Barrasso questioning Administrator Pruitt on the agency’s timeline for withdrawing proposed rule on in situ uranium recovery.
On Administrator Pruitt’s Goals and Metrics:
“My final question was, can you just share a little bit maybe, some of your goals and metrics you are going to set for yourself for the year ahead? And I know this is something you and your team work on and would like to just let us know?”
Click here for video of Chairman Barrasso questioning Administrator Pruitt on his goals and metrics.