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 Opening Statement of Senator James M. Inhofe

Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

Subcommittee on Green Jobs and the New Economy hearing titled "Innovative Practices to Create Jobs and Reduce Pollution"

 Thursday, October 13, 2011

 Chairman Sanders, thank you for holding this hearing today.  I would also like to thank the witnesses for being here.  Dr. Anne Smith, it is nice to have you back.  Mr. Steve Rowlan, welcome.  And we always appreciate having an Oklahoman before the Committee. This may surprise you Mr. Chairman, but in 2003, Mr. Shoen presented me with an award for my work in promoting the use of geothermal heat.  Oklahoma is a leader on geothermal heat pump technology.  In fact, in 2007 I worked with then-Senator Clinton to pass the Federal Buildings Energy Conservation Act - a bill that encourages the use of geothermal heat pumps in Federal buildings.    

With low financing rates dominating the marketplace today, on-bill financing is a good tool to encourage investment in energy efficiency.  While I do not see federal role in expanding capital access, I welcome discussions on the topic.  More pressing at this time, however, is the havoc the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is wreaking upon our manufacturing sector. 

Whether we are looking at the Solyndra debacle or the EPA “train wreck,” what’s clear is that EPA is waging a war on affordable energy that is undermining economic growth.  Ironically, the President himself has now publically acknowledged the connection.  When he stopped the Agency from tightening the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone, his statement couldn’t have been clearer: EPA rules create regulatory burdens and uncertainty that stifle job creation.   

Yet EPA continues to push regulations that harm the economy.  The Cross State Air Pollution Rule and the so-called “Utility MACT” rule are prime examples.  Indeed, these rules are specifically designed to force companies to abandon affordable energy resources, like coal.  Remember, President Obama wants electricity rates to “skyrocket.” As he told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008: if somebody wants to build a coal-fired plant they can.  It’s just that it will bankrupt them…”  

What this President fails to realize is that affordable, reliable energy is the lifeblood of a healthy economy and the foundation of our global competitiveness.  The Maguire Energy Institute points out in a recent report that even modest electricity price increases for energy-intensive American manufacturers depress economic growth and make firms less competitive vis-a-vis China, worsening our trade deficit in the process.   

This is ominous, given that NERA is projecting that the cumulative effect of EPA’s rules on electric utilities may result in electricity costs increasing by as much as 19% in America’s manufacturing heartland.  In fact, NERA projects these costs could translate into a loss of 1.6 million jobs by the end of the decade – even after so called “green jobs” are taken into account.  In my state of Oklahoma, the effect of EPA’s rules is already being felt, with two power plants being idled as a result of just one of EPA’s rules.   

I applaud the efforts of the House of Representatives to direct the EPA to move forward in a sensible manner.  It is unfortunate the Senate Democrats are ignoring the plight of the business community.  In fact, Senate leadership is a major obstacle to relief.  Recently, we learned from the EPA’s Investigator General that the Agency circumvented its own peer review process as it rushed to issue climate regulations, but this Committee has held no hearings. Bipartisan legislation has been introduced to deal with a number of regulations we discuss here today, but this Committee won’t take them up.  And just last week, Majority Leader Harry Reid, changed longstanding Senate rules to protect EPA’s authority to regulate farm dust – at a tremendous cost to the agriculture community.      

Make no mistake, EPA regulations are killing jobs, undermining the economy, and threatening America’s long-term security.  Any discussion of “innovative practices to create jobs and reduce pollution,” as this hearing is titled, must include a discussion of policies that restore balance between policies that protect the environment and those that kill jobs.  I hope that the Senate will soon act to restore that balance.