Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Financial Woes Spill Over To Climate Change Hearing

Sep 23: The Senate Environment and Pubic Works Committee, Chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) held a full Committee hearing entitled, “Regulation of Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act.” Witnesses testifying at the hearing included: Robert Meyers, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator Office of Air and Radiation U.S. EPA; California Air Resources Board; Jason Burnett, Former Associate Deputy Administrator U.S. EPA; Sierra Club; U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Chairman Boxer and Ranking Member James Inhofe both delivered opening statements.

Senator Boxer recounted the long history of EPA action since the April 2, 2007, Supreme Court decision [Massachusetts, et al. v. EPA, et al., No. 05-1120, See WIMS 4/2/07] that confirmed that EPA has authority to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution under the Clean Air Act (CAA). In July of last year that EPA was planning to issue final rules on regulating greenhouse gases by the end of 2008; however "after a long delay, the Bush Administration stopped progress on this rulemaking in its tracks. . .and instead took the weakest step possible in order to further delay action. This was EPA’s 'Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.'"

Senator Boxer said, "We need to consider all the tools available to us to avert the dangers of unchecked global warming. And I continue to believe that we need a comprehensive new law to reduce global warming emissions. But in the meantime there is much that can and should be considered under the Clean Air Act. This law has a proven track record over the last 40 years. It has been very effective in reducing pollution and saving lives. . . This hearing will provide a road map for the next Administration to finally take effective action on reducing global warming emissions. After this hearing, my Committee will prepare a report to the next President on the Clean Air Act’s potential role in combating global warming."

Senator Inhofe said, "I am hopeful that today’s hearing will focus less on political theatrics and more on the substantive matter before us today, which has very urgent and troubling implications for our already fragile economy. This matter is the very real possibility of regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. . . As more and more analysis is done about the potential implications of regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, the more alarming the consequences become. . .

"We will also hear today from the United States Chamber of Commerce, who will voice their strong opposition over any proposed rules under the Act. They will discuss their new analysis that finds over one million mid-sized to large commercial-sector sources could become exposed to PSD permitting requirements, including 92,000 health care facilities and 100,000 schools and other educational facilities. In addition, almost 200,000 industrial manufacturing sector sources emit enough CO2 per year to become exposed to PSD permitting requirements, as well as over 17,000 large agricultural sector sources. . . In a time of record high energy prices, economic uncertainty, and dire financial news, and with Treasury Secretary Paulson testifying at this hour on the largest government bailout in history, the only positive economic data I can gather under those scenarios is for the legal profession as they will have a feeding frenzy of new Rules to challenge."

Access the hearing website for links to all testimony, opening statements and a webcast (
click here). [*Climate]