WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) joined with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Sens. Mike Braun (R-IN), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Rand Paul (R-KY), to introduce S.2662, the Growing American Innovation Now (GAIN) Act.
The GAIN Act reforms the New Source Review (NSR) program under the Clean Air Act. The bill provides greater regulatory certainty about when facility upgrades require a permit. The program in its current form was identified as a key barrier to manufacturing growth in the 2017 Department of Commerce report titled “Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing.” Instead of jumping over regulatory hurdles, the bill allows facility owners and operators to focus on protecting the environment, growing the economy, and creating American jobs.
Barrasso is chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee. Braun is chairman of the EPW Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee.
“The GAIN Act will help grow our economy and protect the environment at the same time,” said Barrasso. “The New Source Review program has held power plants and manufacturing factories back from improving efficiency. The program blocks businesses from upgrading their facilities and reducing emissions. Our legislation will cut government red tape and make it simpler for manufacturers to get the permits they need to improve their plants. The result will be cleaner, increased production.”
“Reforming the New Source Review program would help promote critical modernization and energy efficiency improvements at power plants, which can lead to lower energy prices, more jobs, and cleaner communities,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Current regulations hinder investment and negatively impact Kentucky workers, and this bill can encourage new development in communities most in need. I’m proud to join Chairman Barrasso and my other Senate colleagues in introducing this important legislation.”
“American innovation in the private sector has made great strides toward reducing carbon emissions and preserving our natural resources, but the New Source Review program puts federal government hurdles in the way of manufacturers and power plants who want to improve the way facilities impact the environment,” said Braun. “The GAIN Act encourages job-creation and efficiency while also promoting environmental responsibility.”
“New Source Review is the poster child of negative unintended consequences from otherwise well-intentioned government policies,” said Capito. “This environmental regulation actually prevents industry from making upgrades to existing facilities to improve efficiency and reduce emissions. This is particularly impactful when it comes to installing carbon capture systems, and can lead stakeholders to abandon these projects. This legislation will remove these obstacles and allow our economy to make use of the latest technological advances and reduce our environmental impact.”
“Protecting Kentucky's coal jobs and ensuring that unnecessary regulations aren't standing in the way of the industry's ability to compete has always been a top priority of mine, and this legislation is a continuation of my pledge to always defend Kentucky’s coal miners, their families, and the industry that keeps the lights on in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and across the country,” said Paul. “By changing the criteria for triggering New Source Review, an expensive and burdensome regulatory process, this bill, like the bills I’ve previously introduced, would ensure that power plants are no longer disincentivized from increasing efficiency and making other improvements and modifications, and help prevent coal jobs from falling victim to overbearing regulations.”
The GAIN Act would:
- Amend the definition of “modification” and “construction” to clarify when NSR permits are required.
- Enable facilities to more readily carry out pollution control projects, energy efficiency projects, and equipment reliability and safety improvements.
- Provide the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator with authority under certain, clearly defined circumstances to require NSR permitting after determination of an adverse effect to human health or the environment.
Read the text of the GAIN Act here.
The EPW Committee has repeatedly heard from hearing witnesses and stakeholders about the burdens that the NSR program poses to environmentally responsible growth and innovation.
On September 13, 2017, David Greeson, Vice President of NRG Energy, Inc., testified at an EPW Committee hearing on “Expanding and Accelerating the Deployment and Use of Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration.” Greeson described how NRG Energy had to re-design its Petra Nova carbon capture project in Texas to avoid any chance of triggering NSR requirements. This re-design added $100 million to the cost of the project.
On November 15, 2017, Ross Eisenberg, Vice President of the National Association of Manufacturers, testified before the EPW Committee at a hearing on “Promoting American Leadership in Reducing Air Emissions Through Innovation.” Eisenberg discussed how the current NSR program serves as an impediment to facility owners installing more efficient technologies that would combat climate change.
In 2018, seven unions wrote to Chairman Barrasso and Ranking Member Carper about the need for legislation to modernize NSR program. In their letter, they explained “The NSR 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.”
The GAIN Act is a companion to bipartisan H.R. 172, the New Source Review Permitting Act of 2018. Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN-7) introduced H.R. 172 on January 17, 2019. In 2018, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment passed the bill.