Monday, July 11, 2011

House Subcommittee Approves TRAIN Act To Curb EPA Rules

Jul 8: The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, Chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), approved legislation which Republican members say will "hold the Obama administration accountable for the total cost of EPA's wave of biggest rules." H.R. 2401, the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act (TRAIN Act) [See WIMS 6/22/11], was approved by the subcommittee by voice vote. The "bipartisan" bill now moves to the full Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration. The full Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a markup today (July 11) beginning at 5:00 PM for opening statements only. It will reconvene on Tuesday, July 12, at 10:00 AM. The Committee will also be considering the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2011 (Amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 2273) [See WIMS 6/22/11].
    According to a Republican Committee release, the TRAIN Act would require a cumulative analysis of major new rules recently proposed or promulgated by U.S. EPA. The interagency analysis will provide a greater understanding of the global competitive and economic impacts of these rules. The Subcommittee approved the TRAIN Act for a second time; as an earlier version of the legislation passed the panel in May, also by voice vote. The bill's authors, Energy and Power Subcommittee Vice Chairman John Sullivan (R-OK) and Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT), reintroduced the bill to place a ceiling on possible costs of the legislation and provide offsetting spending reductions, although it is expected that agencies will be able to complete the necessary economic analysis through existing resources by improving and better coordinating the studies they already conduct.
    Full Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said, "I would like to applaud the efforts of Mr. Sullivan and Matheson on this bill. The ultimate goal of the TRAIN Act is to preserve jobs and American competitiveness by providing information necessary to harmonize these regulations. This legislation represents a worthwhile attempt to provide information that could help avoid substantial and unnecessary regulatory costs in the years ahead."
    Rep. Sullivan said, "The Obama Administration's lack of regard for the consequences of their energy and environmental policy is killing our economy and costing American jobs. It's absurd for taxpayer funded federal agencies to impose burdensome regulations on consumers and businesses without first determining how much it's going to cost and the potential consequences it could have on our overall economy. Our national unemployment rate rose to 9.2% over the past month -- this further illustrates the need for an honest accounting of how much EPA's regulations are costing our economy and American consumers, and that is exactly what the TRAIN Act will accomplish."
    The bill was approved over the objections of most Democrats. Full Committee Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) said in an opening statement, "This bill is called the TRAIN Act because energy lobbyists have been complaining that regulations to protect public health from power plant air pollution will cause a 'train wreck' for the reliability of the nation's electric system.
This is another one of the myths that have become so commonplace in this room, like the myth that climate change is a hoax. Analysts have found that EPA regulations won't cause a "train wreck" or even a fender bender. Just last month, the Bipartisan Policy Center released a new report [See WIMS 6/14/11] that finds impacts on the reliability of the electric system are manageable while delivering significant public health and environmental benefits. CEOs of leading electric utilities have said the same thing. H.R. 2401 is seriously flawed. I support the effort to have good information about the potential impacts of regulations. But I can't support proposals that are one-sided or that will waste taxpayer dollars with redundant or infeasible analyses. . ."
    Access a Republican release on the Subcommittee approval (click here). Access the Republican's hearing website for statements, amendments, background and webcast (click here). Access the Democrat's hearing website for statements, amendments, background and webcast (click here). [*All]