Inhofe Statement for International Mother Earth Day

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, released the following statement regarding International Mother Earth Day and in response to Secretary John Kerry signing the Paris international climate agreement today in New York City:

"Today we celebrate the strides our nation has made and will continue to make for the environment. Private-sector innovation has allowed our nation to leverage our domestic energy resources while making them cleaner and more efficient, and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, of which I am proud to have been an original cosponsor, continues to produce positive environmental results. Since 1970, we have reduced air pollution by 68 percent while our energy consumption has increased by 44 percent. Our air is cleaner today that it has ever been.

“As we can learn from history, the most successful environmental policies are those put forward by Congress and enacted into law with strong bipartisan support. Currently underway, my colleagues and I are working on the largest reform of environmental law in the past two decades by amending the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Our TSCA reform legislation is near the finish line and has garnered support from every corner of America – Republicans, Democrats, local and federal government leaders, industries large and small, and environmental activists. I also continue to work with my colleagues to ensure the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program are adequately funded so that states can lean on the federal government when necessary to ensure their communities have access to clean and safe water resources.

“Instead of focusing on these actual bipartisan achievements, the Obama administration alongside climate diplomats will be celebrating the newly rebranded "International Mother Earth Day” by signing the hollow Paris climate agreement. This agreement hinges on commitments made by President Obama for which he cannot deliver. His so-called Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of his efforts, has been rejected by a bipartisan majority in Congress and lacks support from the American people. The U.S. Supreme Court dealt an even greater blow by issuing a stay against the rule that blocks implementation until all litigation is complete. Even with the Clean Power Plan, the administration will miss its emission reduction targets by 45 percent, and that number grows to 60 percent if the regulation is overturned. It makes sense that confidence around the Paris agreement is beginning to crumble. 

“As detailed in a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Majority White Paper released Thursday, we should be learning from the failures of the Kyoto Protocol. Countries will forgo climate pledges when they are forced to choose between their economies and the unsettled science of man-driven climate change. Just like the Kyoto Protocol, without Congress and without the support of the American people, the Paris climate agreement ultimately will fail. On International Mother Earth Day, let us focus on what we have genuinely achieved and not empty promises made to solidify legacies at the expense of American jobs and future economic opportunities.” 

Actions Inhofe has taken in the 114th Congress in regards the Paris Agreement and the so-called Clean Power Plan:

EPW Committee Majority oversight reports

On April 21, the Senate EPW Committee released a White Paper entitled, Lessons From Kyoto: Paris Agreement Will Fail National Economies and the Climate. The White Paper provides a comprehensive outlook on the final Paris agreement by examining its failed predecessor, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. 

On Dec. 1, 2015, Inhofe unveiled a White Paper entitled, Forecast for COP21: Senate Predicts Obama’s Climate Promises Come Up Short Again.  The White Paper provided the first comprehensive account of the Senate’s legislative and oversight efforts during the 114th Congress to set the record straight on the Obama administration’s misguided climate agenda in the context of historical international agreements and negotiations leading up to the 21st session of the Conference of Parties (COP21) pursuant to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris, France from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, 2015.

On Aug. 4, 2015, the Senate EPW Committee released a Majority Staff Oversight Report titled, Obama’s Carbon Mandate: An Account of Collusion, Cutting Corners, and Costing Americans Billions. The report is the product of an ongoing investigation by committee Republicans on EPA’s development of Obama’s climate rules.  The full report can be read here.


Oversight letters to the Obama administration

On April 18, Inhofe joined a group of 28 Senators in sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry demanding that the administration follow the law and prohibit funding for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its related entities for allowing the “State of Palestine” to become a full member.

April 13, Inhofe joined Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and John Barrasso (R-Wy.) in sending a letter to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Howard Shelanski on the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed rule for waste prevention of methane emissions. 

April 13, Inhofe joined Lankford in sending a letter to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Howard Shelanski on the EPA’s social cost of methane estimates in its proposed rule for methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.

On March 22, Inhofe joined a group of 22 Senators in sending a letter to Senate appropriators expressing opposition to U.S. taxpayer dollars going to the United Nations Green Climate Fund (GCF).

On March 10, Inhofe sent a letter to Gina McCarthy, administrator of EPA, requesting clarification regarding comments coming from the EPA that it will “keep moving the Clean Power Plan forward” despite that the Supreme Court voted 5-4 on Feb. 9 to halt EPA’s implementation of CPP.  This is the first time the Supreme Court has issued a stay on a rule after one was denied by an appellate court.

On Nov. 20, 2015, Inhofe wrote to McCarthy requesting EPA extend the public comment period to allow adequate review of EPA’s proposed methane rule along with a similar rule proposed by the Bureau of Land Management.

On Nov. 19, 2015, Inhofe and Barrasso and their colleagues sent a letter to the president encouraging U.S. negotiators to be forthcoming to foreign counterparts of Congress’s role over the Green Climate Fund and any binding agreement.

On July 22, 2015, Inhofe and 17 other members of the House of Representatives and Senate sent a bicameral letter to Howard Shelanski, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs with the Office of management and Budget, expressing concern about the legal and economic aspects of the proposed Clean Power Plan rule.

July 21, 2015, Inhofe led seven other Senators in sending a letter to EPA Administrator McCarthy on the lack of transparency and accountability in developing and updating the social cost of carbon estimates. 

On July 8, 2015, Inhofe led ten Senators in a letter to President Obama requesting a detailed response for how the U.S. will plan to meet a pledge of 26-28 percent emissions reduction by 2025, as represented by the INDC submitted to the UNFCCC. Senators have yet to receive a substantive response.

On June 11, 2015, a letter was sent by Inhofe and six other Senators to President Obama concerning the administration’s plans to regulate methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.

On May 4, 2015, Inhofe and six other Senators wrote to Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, requesting information about a new requirement for states to address climate change before they can become eligible for receipt of disaster mitigation grants

On April 17, 2015, Inhofe wrote to McCarthy seeing documents about EPA’s development of proposed rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.  A follow up letter was sent to McCarthy on July 28, 2015, objecting to delays and lack of transparency in EPA’s response to this oversight request.

On April 1, 2015, Inhofe and three other Senators wrote to McCarthy requesting information about scientific data EPA  uses to verify whether predicted climate impacts from greenhouse gas emissions are in fact occurring.

On March 9, 2015, Inhofe led eight other Senators in sending a letter to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Howard Shelanski on the delayed response to public comments on the social cost of carbon estimates.


EPW Committee hearings

On April 13, the Senate EPW Committee held a hearing entitled, Examining the Role of Environmental Policies on Access to Energy and Economic Opportunity. The purpose of the hearing was to examine the impact the president’s climate policies are having on economic opportunity, national security, and related issues.

On Nov. 18, 2015, Hofstra University Professor of Law, Julian Ku, testified before the EPW Committee that the president could not legally bind the United States to make emission reduction targets through a sole executive agreement and that any attempt to suggest otherwise could result in “misleading foreign governments” or “violat[ing] the Constitution.”  Oren Cass, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute highlighted how the UN negotiations ultimately are an attempt to redistribute developed countries cash in the form of “climate finance,” which the U.S. congress can “strongly resist.” Mr. Stephen Eule, vice president of Climate and Technology at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy, revealed that other countries’ INDCs are nothing more than business as usual since developing countries have a much greater interest in “pursing economic growth and poverty eradication than … reducing GHG emissions.”

On Sept. 29, 2015, the Senate EPW Committee held a hearing, Economy-wide Implications of President Obama’s Air Agenda, to hear from Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for the EPA Office of Air and Radiation.

On July 8, 2015, Mr. David Bookbinder, former Sierra Club chief climate counsel, testified before the U.S. Senate EPW Committee, that the president’s goal would fall dramatically short of meeting the president’s target to cut emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Even the minority witness from the World Resources Institute admitted that additional actions would have to take place, which former EPA Air Administrator, Jeff Holmstead suggested would likely come through “a greater regulatory burden on rural America” in the form of agriculture and other industrial regulations. 

On Jun. 23, 2015, the Senate EPW Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety held a legislative hearing on the ARENA Act (S.1324) and on the impacts of EPA’s proposed carbon regulations on energy costs for American businesses, rural communities and families. 

On May 5, 2015, the Senate EPW Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety held a hearing, Legal Implications of the Clean Power Plan, to examine the legal issues surrounding EPA’s carbon regulations.

On Mar. 23, 2015, the Senate EPW Committee held a field hearing in Beckley, West Virginia, Hearing to Examine Impacts of EPA’s Carbon Regulations in Coal-dependent West Virginia.

On Mar. 11, 2015, the Senate EPW Committee held a hearing, Examining State Perspectives of the EPA’s proposed carbon dioxide emissions rule for existing power plants, to hear from state regulators responsible for compliance with the existing source proposal.

On Feb. 11, 2015, the Senate EPW Committee held a hearing, Oversight Hearing: Examining EPA’s Proposed Carbon Dioxide Emissions Rules from New, Modified, and Existing Power Plants, to examine the proposed rules and its potential impacts.  Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, testified.


Legislative action

On Nov. 19, 2015, Inhofe and Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), introduced a bipartisan resolution expressing the sense of the Senate with regard to any agreement reached at the 21st session of the Conference of Parties pursuant to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held this December. The purpose of the resolution is to further inform the international community of the U.S. Senate’s respective role.

On Nov. 17, 2015, the U.S. Senate voted to disapprove of President Obama’s carbon mandates by passing S.J.Res. 23 and S.J.Res. 24. S.J.Res. 23 was introduced by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and S.J.Res. 24 was introduced by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

On Aug. 5, 2015, the EPW Committee passed the bipartisan ARENA Act, S. 1324. The ARENA Act, strikes EPA’s 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 legislation was introduced by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) on May 13.

Response to court actions: 

On Feb. 23, Inhofe joined 33 Senators and 171 House Members in filing an amicus brief in the case of State of West Virginia, et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al.

On Feb. 9, Inhofe released statement about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to block the implementation of the Clean Power Plan while it is being challenged in court.