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Opening Statement of Senator James Inhofe 

Senate Environment and Public Works

Regulation of Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act

 Tuesday, September 23, 2008 

Madame Chairman, I am hopeful that today’s hearing will focus less on political theatrics and more on the substantive matter before us today, which has very urgent and troubling implications for our already fragile economy. This matter is the very real possibility of regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.   

Rather than trying to uncover who knew what and when during the deliberative process at the EPA, this hearing should begin our substantive look into the Clean Air Act, and just exactly how it will work in relation to the regulation of greenhouse gases.  Despite my disagreement with the Supreme Court in the Massachusetts v. EPA case, I recognize that this Committee has a responsibility to evaluate the implications of that decision, which in my view we have failed to  focus on until now.  Therefore, I am grateful, Madame Chairman,  for your decision to have this hearing today, and hope you will commit to work with me through this issue and take a hard look at all of the potential impacts as the climate debate moves forward next year.  

As more and more analysis is done about the potential implications of regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, the more alarming the consequences become. While some may seek to dismiss these analyses as scare tactics or exaggeration, I only offer up the recent D.C. Circuit Court decision vacating the CAIR rule as a reminder of how strictly the Courts interpret the provisions of the Clean Air Act. So while some in the environmental community or the Agency may see an inherent flexibility in the Act to soften some of the prescriptive permitting requirements that could be triggered if greenhouse gases are regulated, I am not so certain they should rush to those early conclusions.  

My concern with the potential disastrous effects of this issue are not just mine alone. Several other Members, on both sides of the Capitol and on a bipartisan basis, have already expressed concern publicly with the Massachusetts case, and with the potential regulation of greenhouse gases under the Act. John Dingell, the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in a recent hearing even called the situation a “glorious mess” and that this has the “rich potential for causing a fine economic mess and a splendid manufacturing and industrial shutdown.”

We will also hear today from the United States Chamber of Commerce, who will voice their strong opposition over any proposed rules under the Act. They will discuss their new analysis that finds over one million mid-sized to large commercial-sector sources could become exposed to PSD permitting requirements, including 92,000 health care facilities and 100,000 schools and other educational facilities.  In addition, almost 200,000 industrial manufacturing sector sources emit enough CO2 per year to become exposed to PSD permitting requirements, as well as over 17,000 large agricultural sector sources. Keep in mind that as part of the PSD process, regulated sources are often forced to install Best Available Control Technologies, or BACT, which in the case of CO2 has not been determined.  This additional requirement would lead to even more bureaucratic delay and legal challenges.

In a time of record high energy prices, economic uncertainty, and dire financial news, and with Treasury Secretary Paulson testifying at this hour on the largest government bailout in history,  the only positive economic data I can gather under those scenarios is for the legal profession as they will have a feeding frenzy of new Rules to challenge. Madame Chairman, this is only one example of the consequences of potential regulation under the Clean Air Act.  There are also the State Implementation Plans, the New Source Review provisions, which can be applied in two different ways, and I could go on. It is my hope that this hearing will lead to broader understanding of the dire implications of regulating CO2 under the Clean Air Act, which it was never intended to do, and that as we move forward into next year, this Committee will exercise its jurisdiction to prevent any of these harmful and unnecessary regulatory impacts from happening.