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 “Hearing on S. 2662, the Growing American Innovation Now (GAIN) Act.”
The hearing featured testimony from Jeff Holmstead, Esq., partner at Bracewell LLC; Sean Alteri, deputy commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection; and John Walke, Esq., clean air director and senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
For more information on witness testimony click here.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Today, we are here to discuss S. 2662, the Growing American Innovation Now Act, or GAIN Act.
“This bill would bring long-overdue legislative reform to the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review program.
“The New Source Review program protects air quality when industrial boilers, factories and power plants are modified or newly built.
“The GAIN Act provides much-needed clarity to factory and power plant owners, as well as state permitting officials, about when permits are needed.
“The New Source Review program was originally designed to support pollution control projects and upgrades.
“It’s actually had the opposite effect.
“In its current form, the program is complex, it’s costly, it’s time consuming.
“The program directly slows economic growth, job creation, technological innovation, as well as the ability to modernize our American industry and infrastructure.
“The Portland Cement Association submitted a letter to the committee outlining the extreme burden New Source Review places on its members.
“The association explained that, ‘a member company sought a permit to combust alternative fuels… The EPA Regional Office insisted that permitting to burn alternative fuels automatically triggered NSR permitting….After going through a costly, lengthy, and burdensome process…, the EPA Regional Office concluded that the project was not required to go through NSR permitting. It took five years to go through [this] process.’
“Five years to figure out that you do not need a permit.
“That is simply unacceptable.
“I ask unanimous consent to enter the letter into the record.
“Such permitting uncertainty and delays discourage key upgrades that would otherwise be good for both the economy and the environment.
“Last year, a group of seven unions wrote to the committee urging New Source Review reform legislation.
“These seven unions state, ‘The [New Source Review] program adversely impacts American workers by creating a strong disincentive to undertake projects that can improve the efficiency and productivity of existing utility and industrial plants, ranging from steel and chemicals to refineries.’
“I would like to enter that letter into the record without objection.
“Congress enacted the New Source Review program more than 40 years ago.
“It’s time for us to streamline and modernize the program.
“When Congress last addressed the New Source Review program, we did not have power plants using carbon capture, like we now have at the Petra Nova project.
“At a 2017 hearing before this committee, NRG Energy testified that it had to re-design the Petra Nova project in Texas to avoid triggering New Source Review requirements.
“This unnecessary re-design added $100 million to the cost of the project.
“We can’t have our environmental regulations pose roadblocks to critical technologies that would reduce our emissions, and combat climate change.
“The GAIN Act would make much needed changes to the Clean Air Act.
“It would provide more clarity about what types of changes fit the definition of ‘modifications,’ and therefore warrant a New Source Review permit.
“The bill would clarify that projects designed to reduce emissions or improve reliability and safety should not generally trigger New Source Review permits.
“Permitting would no longer be based on annual emissions estimates, which have been the subject to endless litigation and are very difficult to project.
“I would like to thank Leader McConnell, Senator Braun, Senator Capito, Senator Paul, and Senator Inhofe for joining me on this bill.
“The GAIN Act is identical to a bipartisan bill, the New Source Review Permitting Improvement Act, sponsored in the House by Congressmen Morgan Griffith, Collin Peterson, and Alexander Mooney.
“I encourage Senate Democrats to join us in making the bill bipartisan on this side of the Capitol as well.
“Any senator who cares about economic growth, emissions reductions, and clear regulations, I would encourage to support this legislation.”