Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a hearing titled, “Examining EPA’s Agenda: Protecting the Environment and Allowing America’s Economy to Grow.”

The hearing featured testimony from the Honorable Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

For more information on Acting Administrator Wheeler’s testimony click here.

Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“Today, the committee will hear testimony on the Environmental Protection Agency’s work to protect the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the communities we call home.

“It is my pleasure to welcome back to the committee Andrew Wheeler in his new role as acting administrator of the EPA.

“Mr. Wheeler has served on this committee in a number of capacities, most recently as staff director.

“It’s only fitting our committee be the first you testify before in your new role.

“Since President Trump has come to office, his administration has made it a priority to pursue policies that both protect the nation’s environment and allow the economy to grow.

“Just last week, we saw how the administration’s pro-growth and pro-jobs policies are leading to incredible economic growth.

“America’s economy grew at an impressive 4.1 percent.

“Over the past year and a half, the Environmental Protection Agency has been busy rolling back punishing regulations that hurt the economy in my home state of Wyoming and communities across the country.

“Under the previous administration, the agency created broad and legally questionable regulations that punished the very communities EPA claimed to be protecting.

“The so-called ‘Clean Power Plan’ would have cost Wyoming energy workers their jobs and closed power plants across the country.

“The Obama administration openly declared war on American coal and the workers who produce this critically important resource.

“The so-called ‘Clean Power Plan’ wasn’t just bad policy – it was illegal.

“24 states, including Wyoming, filed suit to block this regulation.

“The Supreme Court has put the rule on hold because of the challenges.

“Under the leadership of President Trump, the EPA is now taking steps to undo this damaging rule.

“The agency held listening sessions in several different communities, to hear feedback on how the regulation should be changed or withdrawn.

“One of those listening sessions took place in Campbell County, Wyoming in the city of Gillette.

“Wyoming is the leading coal-producing state in the nation.

“The vast majority of the nation’s coal comes from Campbell County.

“America can’t afford to leave its energy resources stranded in the ground.

“I am thankful the EPA took the time to listen to all stakeholders and re-examine the agency’s deeply flawed rule.

“It was an important example of Washington listening to the people of Wyoming.

“The administration has also taken major steps to revise the Waters of the United States, or the WOTUS, rule.

“This outrageous Obama-era rule would have put backyard ponds, puddles, and farm fields under Washington’s control.

“Under that rule, the EPA told farmers and ranchers their irrigation ditches were considered ‘navigable waters,’ and could be regulated by the federal government.

“The consequences were staggering.

“The EPA threatened to fine one private landowner in Wyoming seventy five thousand dollars a day.

“The crime he committed was digging a stock pond in his back yard.

“This past January, the EPA delayed the implementation date of this devastating rule.

“This delay gives the agency time to revise it.

“EPA should not punish our ranchers or farmers for managing their land.

“It must replace the WOTUS rule with commonsense policy that protects America’s waters and respects state and local authority.

“The agency has also taken important steps to protect small refineries in Wyoming and across the country.

“I applaud the Trump administration for rejecting efforts to undermine the ability of small refineries to obtain hardship relief under the Renewable Fuel Standard, or the RFS.

“During the Obama administration, EPA frequently ignored the law, which requires EPA to grant relief to small refineries suffering economic hardship under the RFS.

“Since then, two federal appeals courts have rebuked the agency for decisions denying hardship relief to small refineries.

“EPA must not take any action that would: limit the ability of small refineries to obtain hardship relief; restrict when small refineries can apply for hardship relief; disclose the confidential business information of small refineries; or increase the burdens on other refineries.

“Taking any of these steps would only compound the problems that this broken program has created for American refineries and their workers.

“So I look forward to hearing more about what the agency is doing to protect the people of Wyoming, to keep our environment clean, and to support the nation’s growing economy.”