Inhofe Statement on Senate EPW’s Top Accomplishments for 2015

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today released a statement on the Senate EPW Committee’s top accomplishments for 2015.

“I am proud to highlight the great work of the Senate EPW Committee, and extend thanks to my colleagues who helped get the Senate working again this year,” Inhofe said. “This past year was a very active year from reauthorizing our nation’s vast transportation and infrastructure system to pushing back on the administration’s regulatory overreach, successfully passing the first environmental law rewrite in decades, and partnering to block the president’s economically disastrous carbon mandates.  It has been my goal in working with my colleagues, to champion fiscally responsible policies to serve the betterment of the American people and our economy.  In our committee, we held 37 hearings, five markups, reported sixteen bills out of committee to the Senate floor, passed three Congressional Review Act resolutions of disapproval in the Senate, confirmed seven nominees, and completed two oversight reports on the Clean Power Plan and the COP21 climate agreement. A total of 25 EPW bills have passed the Senate and 21 have been enacted into law.”

“My first priority from the start was to develop and pass a long-term transportation reauthorization bill to fix our nation’s crumbling roads and bridges. Senator Barbara Boxer and I worked across party lines to make this goal a reality, as we successfully passed the largest investment in our nation’s infrastructure in U.S. history and the longest reauthorization since the 1990s.  I’m proud to report that the president signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, a five-year, $305 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill into law just this month.  Our country was long overdue for this bill, and the FAST Act will put America back on the map as the best place to do business.

“With the recent passage of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act which the Senate unanimously agreed to pass, Congress has a historic opportunity to enact the first major environmental law rewrite in decades.  The overwhelming support of this bill shows the great need to responsibly update this almost 40 year-old law and direct EPA to ensure greater protection for American families as well as our national economy through a transparent and scientifically rigorous process.  This bill creates regulatory certainty for businesses not only in the United States, but across the world. Along with the abundant domestic supply of natural gas being extracted every day in Oklahoma and around the nation, this certainty will help investment predicted to be responsible for over 700,000 new jobs along with $293 billion in permanent new domestic economic output by 2023.  Investments by manufacturers impacted by this bill are also predicted to lead to $21 billion in new federal, state, and local tax revenue in the next 8 years and will lower our trade deficit by increasing our exports by nearly $30 billion by 2030.  I am proud we passed this bill out of the EPW Committee and our continued efforts to grow support have resulted in passing a major environmental law reform with the consent of all 100 members of the Senate, that is simply something that is never done.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to quickly bring meaningful and comprehensive TSCA reform to the president’s desk to be signed into law.”

“In pushing back on the administration’s regulatory overreach, our committee stood to protect our country’s farmers, private landowners, and ranchers from the president’s WOTUS rule.  We worked hard to shed light on EPA’s illegal overreach and illegal promotion of the rule through covert propaganda and lobbying.  Our committee worked with Senators Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Donnelly, Joe Manchin, and Joni Ernst to bring legislation to the Senate floor to stop this illegal expansion of federal control on private land.  The Sixth Circuit has blocked the administration’s WOTUS rule from going into effect while the litigation challenging the rule is ongoing, a huge victory for all states, local governments, and landowners impacted by this harmful rule.

“My committee worked with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring to the floor resolutions to block the president’s carbon mandates, sending a clear message to the international community that the American people will not tolerate policies that will increase electricity prices and put hundreds of thousands of people out of work.  President Obama’s so-called Clean Power Plan is riddled with legal flaws and faces mounting opposition in federal courts.  The president was not able to enforce his climate agenda on our country in the form of legislation, and he is now trying to secure a climate legacy for himself through legally vulnerable regulations. Hardworking Americans should not be stuck footing the bill of costly, ideological based climate initiatives that are counter to Americans economic interests and will have no meaningful impact on the environment. 




The FAST Act also incorporated other important pieces of legislation, including S. 280, the Federal Permitting Improvement Act, S. 848, the Resolving Environmental and Grid Reliability Conflicts Act of 2015, H.R. 2271, the Critical Electric Infrastructure Protection Act, and H.R. 2244, an Act to establish a Strategic Transformer Reserve Program.

On Dec. 4, Inhofe and Sen Barbara Boxer (D-CA), released a joint statement after the president signed the FAST Act into law.

On Dec. 3, Inhofe and Boxer applaud the final passage of the FAST Act.

On Dec. 1, Inhofe announced provisions in the FAST Act benefiting Oklahoma, a bicameral, bipartisan agreement for the surface transportation reauthorization conference report.

On Dec. 1, Inhofe and Boxer, along with U.S. Rep Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), and U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), released a joint statement announcing an agreement on the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. To read a summary of the FAST Act, click here.  To read the text of the FAST Act, click here.

On Jul. 30, the Senate passed H.R. 22, the vehicle for the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act (DRIVE Act) in a vote of 65 to 34.

On June 24, the Senate EPW Committee passed the DRIVE Act (S.1647) out of committee unanimously. On July 21, the DRIVE Act that incorporates the four committees of jurisdiction, including EPW, Commerce, Banking, Homeland Security/Government Affairs and Finance, was reported to the Senate floor. Text of the legislation can be found here.

On June 1, the Senate EPW Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure held a field hearing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana entitled, Need to Invest Federal Funding to Relieve Traffic Congestion and Improve Our Roads and Bridges at the State and Local Level.

On Feb. 25, the Senate EPW Committee held a hearing, The Importance of MAP-21 Reauthorization: Perspectives from Owners, Operators, and Users of the System.

On Jan. 28, the Senate EPW Committee held a hearing, The Importance of MAP-21 Reauthorization: Federal and State Perspectives.



On Dec. 17, Inhofe along with Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.), got their Christmas wish granted early this year from the U.S. Senate in the passage of S.697, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act by a voice vote.

On Oct. 6, Inhofe joined Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and David Vitter (R-La.) along with industry leaders and environmental groups in a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol to highlight the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.

On April 28, the Senate EPW Committee marked up S. 697, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, up out of committee in a vote of 15 to 5 with bipartisan support. TSCA is a law that governs the use of chemicals in everyday products and has not been updated since 1976. 

On March 18, the Senate EPW Committee held a hearing, Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.

On March 10, S. 697, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act was introduced. 


‘Waters of the United States’ (WOTUS):

On Dec. 14, Inhofe released a statement after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published its legal decision that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated prohibitions on the use of taxpayer dollars for covert propaganda and unauthorized publicity as well as for indirect or grassroots lobbying against legislation concerning EPA’s controversial WOTUS rule. You can read the full report, here.

On Nov. 4, Inhofe praised 53 Senators who voted to pass S.J.Res. 22, the WOTUS rule resolution of disapproval introduced by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa.

On Nov. 4, Inhofe delivered a speech on the Senate floor holding 11 Democrats accountable for blocking debate on S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act.  Inhofe also urged support for the CRA on WOTUS.

On Nov. 3, Inhofe released a statement on the Senate vote for S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act.

On Nov. 3, Inhofe released a statement in response to the president’s veto threat of S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act.

On Nov. 3, Inhofe released a statement rebuking 11 Senate Democrats for sending a letter to EPA asking for clarification on the final WOTUS rule while the same Democrats also voted to block Senate consideration of S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act.

On Oct. 9, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a nationwide stay of the final rule entitled:  Clean Water Rule; Definition of Waters of the United States, 80 Fed. Reg. 37,054, promulgated on Jun. 29, 2015, in consolidated cases brought by eighteen states, including Oklahoma.  The District Court of North Dakota had previously stayed the rule in thirteen states. 

On Sept. 30, the EPW Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water held a hearing entitled, “Oversight of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Participation in the Development of the New Regulatory Definition of WOTUS,” with Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army, as a witness.

On Aug. 20, Inhofe sent a letter to Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, and Ken Kopocis, deputy assistant administrator of the EPA's Office of Water, asking them to address the application of the new WOTUS definition to city sewer systems, using Washington, D.C. as an example. Under the new WOTUS rule, agencies inter to use historical maps and historic aerial photographs to identify the former locations of water features like streams. Many city sewer systems are located in former streams, as is evident from maps of Washington, D.C. 

On July 14, Inhofe led Republican members of the committee in a letter to EPA Adm. Gina McCarthy requesting the legal justification for the WOTUS rule. This was a follow-up request to Sen. Dan Sullivan’s (R-Alaska) initial request on March 4, 2015.

On June 10, the bipartisan Federal Water Quality Protection Act (S.1140) was passed out of the committee. The legislation was first introduced by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), and Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) on April 30

On May 22, Inhofe joined Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) in sending a letter to EPA Adm. Gina McCarthy expressing concerns and requesting answers regarding a recent New York Times article that reported the EPA may have conducted an unprecedented, and possibly illegal lobbying and marketing effort on behalf of the controversial WOTUS rulemaking in order to inflate the number of positive public comments. 

On May 19, the EPW Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife held a legislative hearing on S.1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act.

On April 30, Inhofe joined Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) in introducing the Federal Water Quality Protection Act. The bipartisan legislation will ensure the protection of traditional navigable waters of the United States. It also protects farmers, ranchers and private landowners by directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue a revised “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule that does not include things such as isolated ponds, ditches, agriculture water, storm water, groundwater, floodwater, municipal water supply systems, wastewater management systems, and streams without enough flow to carry pollutants to navigable waters.

On April 6 and 8, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-S.D.), chairman of the EPW Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife held two field hearings – one in Anchorage, Alaska and the other in Fairbanks, Alaska – to examine local impacts of EPA’s proposed WOTUS rule on state and local governments and stakeholders.

On March 14, the EPW Committee held a field hearing chaired by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) in Lincoln, Nebraska. The hearing focused on the impact of the proposed WOTUS rule, which would expand federal regulation of water in Nebraska.

On Feb. 4, the EPW Committee held a bicameral hearing with the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure that examined the impacts on state and local governments of a proposed rule to expand federal regulation of waters under the Clean Water Act. Witnesses in attendance included EPA Adm. Gina McCarthy and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Work Jo-Ellen Darcy as well as local government leaders. Following the hearing Inhofe and House T&I Committee Chairman Bill Shuster called for the EPA to withdraw the proposed WOTUS rule.



On Dec. 1, Inhofe unveiled a White Paper put together by Senate EPW Committee Majority staff to provide the first comprehensive account of the Senate’s legislative and oversight efforts during the 114th Congress to set the record straight on the Obama administration’s misguided climate agenda in the context of historical international agreements and negotiations leading up to the 21st session of the Conference of Parties (COP21) pursuant to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris, France from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, 2015.

On Nov. 30, Inhofe had an op-ed published with CNN called, “Beware of Empty Climate Promises.”

On Nov. 19, Inhofe and Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), introduced a bipartisan resolution expressing the sense of the Senate with regard to any agreement reached at the 21st session of the Conference of Parties pursuant to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held this December. The purpose of the resolution is to further inform the international community of the U.S. Senate’s respective role.

On Nov. 19, Inhofe and Barrasso and their colleagues sent a letter to the president encouraging U.S. negotiators to be forthcoming to foreign counterparts of Congress’s role over the Green Climate Fund and any binding agreement.

On Nov. 18, Hofstra University Professor of Law, Julian Ku, testified that the president could not legally bind the United States to make emission reduction targets through a sole executive agreement and that any attempt to suggest otherwise could result in “misleading foreign governments” or “violat[ing] the Constitution.”  Oren Cass, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute highlighted how the UN negotiations ultimately are an attempt to redistribute developed countries cash in the form of “climate finance,” which the U.S. congress can “strongly resist.” Mr. Stephen Eule, vice president of Climate and Technology at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy, revealed that other countries’ INDCs are nothing more than business as usual since developing countries have a much greater interest in “pursing economic growth and poverty eradication than … reducing GHG emissions.”

On Nov. 17, the U.S. Senate voted to disapprove of President Obama’s signature legacy regulation on global warming in S.J.Res. 23 and S.J.Res. 24. S.J.Res. 23 was introduced by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and S.J.Res. 24 was introduced by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

On Oct. 27, Inhofe and 48 other Senators filed Congressional Review Act (CRA) Resolutions of Disapproval against the carbon emission standards for new and existing sources.

On Sept. 29, the Senate EPW Committee held a hearing, Economy-wide Implications of President Obama’s Air Agenda, to hear from Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for the EPA Office of Air and Radiation.

On Aug. 5,  Inhofe praised the passage of S. 1324, the ARENA Act, out of the Senate EPW Committee.

On Aug. 4, the Senate EPW Committee released a Majority Staff Oversight Report titled, Obama’s Carbon Mandate: An Account of Collusion, Cutting Corners, and Costing Americans Billions. The report is the product of an ongoing investigation by committee Republicans on EPA’s development of Obama’s climate rules.  The full report can be read here.

On Aug. 3, Inhofe released a statement in response to President Obama’s finalization of the EPA’s Power Plan.

On July 8, Mr. David Bookbinder, former Sierra Club chief climate counsel, testified before the U.S. Senate EPW Committee, that the president’s goal would fall dramatically short of meeting the president’s target to cut emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Even the minority witness from the World Resources Institute admitted that additional actions would have to take place, which former EPA Air Administrator, Jeff Holmstead suggested would likely come through “a greater regulatory burden on rural America” in the form of agriculture and other industrial regulations. 

On July 8, Inhofe led ten Senators in a letter to President Obama requesting a detailed response for how the U.S. will plan to meet a pledge of 26-28 percent emissions reduction by 2025, as represented by the INDC submitted to the UNFCCC. Senators are still awaiting the president’s response.

On May 13, Senator Capito introduced the ARENA Act as the principal legislative vehicle to roll back the President’s carbon mandates, including the EPA’s Power Plan.  Inhofe was an original cosponsor.

On May 5, the Senate EPW Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety held a hearing, Legal Implications of the Clean Power Plan, to examine the legal issues surrounding EPA’s carbon regulations.

On Jun. 23, the Senate EPW Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety held a legislative hearing on the ARENA Act (S.1324) and on the impacts of EPA’s proposed carbon regulations on energy costs for American businesses, rural communities and families. 

On Mar. 23, the Senate EPW Committee held a field hearing in Beckley, West Virginia, Hearing to Examine Impacts of EPA’s Carbon Regulations in Coal-dependent West Virginia.

On Mar. 11, the Senate EPW Committee held a hearing, Examining State Perspectives of the EPA’s proposed carbon dioxide emissions rule for existing power plants, to hear from state regulators responsible for compliance with the existing source proposal.

On Feb. 11, the Senate EPW Committee held a hearing, Oversight Hearing: Examining EPA’s Proposed Carbon Dioxide Emissions Rules from New, Modified, and Existing Power Plants, to examine the proposed rules and its potential impacts.  Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, testified.

On Feb. 2, Inhofe released a statement on the president’s budget proposal, in which Inhofe said, “I will not support any special funds, including the $500 million for the Green Climate Fund, to further [the president’s] climate agenda that is eroding states’ rights and making it unnecessarily difficult to do business in America.”