U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, made the following statement regarding the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) final Clean Water Act (CWA) section 316(b) rule, which impacts cooling water systems at power plants and industrial facilities.

"EPA's cooling water rule today is a clear misuse of the Endangered Species Act and could lead to the shutdown of even more power plants," said Vitter. "Previous plant closures have obviously affected jobs, the economy, and accessibility and affordability of basic power needs, but this new rule will likely have a far greater impact than what is currently predicted by the Administration."

Today's released rule will govern the technology power plants and other industrial facilities use in order to minimize environmental impacts from cooling water intake structures. Although EPA determined in June 2013 that the rule would "reduce impacts" to endangered species, it nonetheless requested consultation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) under the Endangered Species Act, offering the Administration the opportunity to make a significant power plant rule even more costly. As a result, today's rule will likely do more harm than good, and may lead to further shut downs of power plants throughout the country. EPA once again violates President Obama's pledge to reduce red tape.

During a February 25, 2013, EPW Committee hearing, Director Dan Ashe of the USFWS suggested that an agency "has an obligation" to consult on known impacts to a listed species or designated critical habitat. Vitter has questioned the Obama Administration's unconventional use of the Endangered Species Act when proposing new rules and regulations, including the New Source Performance Standards for power plants. Click here to read more.