Friday, September 23, 2011

Full House GOP Approves TRAIN Act & Amendments

Sep 23: As expected, despite strong opposition from House Democrats [See WIMS 9/21/11] and an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) "Statement of Administration Policy" opposing and recommending a veto of H.R. 2401 -- the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011 (i.e. the TRAIN Act), the U.S. House of Representatives approved the bill by a vote of 249 to 169 -- 230 Republicans and 19 Democrats voted for the bill; and 165 Democrats and 4 Republicans voted against it. The Latta amendment was agreed to by recorded vote of  227-192; and the Whitfield amendment was agreed to by recorded vote of 234-188.
    Republicans said the bill would "protect jobs and provide certainty to America's job creators"; while Democrats said the bill and amendments would "gut" the Clean Air Act. Representative Waxman said, "The Whitfield amendment will eviscerate the law's ability to require power plants to install modern pollution controls. The Latta amendment will reverse 40 years of clean air policy, allowing our national goals for clean air to be determined by corporate profits -- not public health."
    The bill passed with an amendment offered by Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) relating to two costly new rules affecting our nation's power sector -- the Utility MACT rule and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). EPA will be required to continue the current Clean Air Interstate program to achieve further emissions reductions, and to re-propose the Utility MACT rule to ensure it is achievable in the real world. Republicans said the amendment "provides much-needed regulatory relief to America's power sector and will ensure American families can keep the lights on. These two rules have been estimated to cost $17.8 billion annually and 1.4 million job-years by 2020."
    The TRAIN Act, introduced by Representatives John Sullivan (R-OK) and Jim Matheson (D-UT), requires an interagency committee to analyze the cumulative economic impacts of certain EPA rules to better understand how these regulations affect jobs, energy prices, electric reliability and America's overall global competitiveness.

    Representative Sullivan said, "As House Republicans move forward with a bold agenda to grow our economy and put Americans back to work, one issue that must be addressed is overregulation by the federal government. I strongly believe the Obama Administration is moving too fast and showing little regard for the economic consequences of their energy and environmental policies. I introduced this bipartisan legislation to protect American jobs—jobs that we are in danger of losing due to the Obama Administration's environmental regulatory agenda. The Train Act will force the EPA and other federal agencies to conduct an in-depth economic analysis of the rules and regulations so Congress and the American people can understand how the EPA's regulatory train wreck will impact our economy."

    The bill had strong support from the business community. In a September 22, letter to Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) Chairman, Energy and Commerce Committee, former Michigan Governor John Engler and now President of BRT said his organization strongly supported H.R. 2401 and urged "swift House passage of this important legislation." Engler said, "The TRAIN Act would require an interagency analysis of the cumulative and incremental impacts of certain rules either pending or that recently have been finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Pending completion of this analysis, the legislation also would stay the effectiveness of certain of the covered rules until at least six months after the day on which the interagency committee analysis has been finalized and transmitted to the Congress."  He concluded, "The TRAIN Act directly addresses this issue with respect to certain EPA regulations in a thoughtful and creative way. We strongly support this legislation." Business Roundtable (BRT) is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies with over $6 trillion in annual revenues and more than 14 million employees.

   The OMB statement of opposition issued on September 21 indicates, "H.R. 2401 would undermine this progress by blocking EPA's ability to move forward with two long overdue CAA rules -- the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. . . EPA estimates that these two rules alone will yield hundreds of billions of dollars in net benefits each year. H.R. 2401 would block these rules and indefinitely delay these public health and economic benefits. . ."   

    Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Natural Resources delivered a lengthy Floor statement on the bill saying in part, "This Republican led House has initiated a full throttle 'repeal-a-thon' that denies science, delays regulations, and deters efforts to protect the health and security of millions of Americans. We keep hearing from Republicans about how EPA's clean air standards to reduce mercury, lead, dioxins and other pollutants need to be economically analyzed and re-analyzed. They insist that even if a standard for one toxic chemical was met by an entire industrial sector, the removal of just one more poisonous chemical would cause a domino effect of problems for industry, from loss of domestic manufacturing capacity to job loss to loss of electric reliability.

    "And the solution to these supposed problems? It's a time tested Republican tradition. First, pass legislation that repeals regulations that have already been set. Second, require endless study of the cumulative impacts of all regulations on all industries. And finally, just for good measure, pass an amendment that guts the very underpinnings of the Clean Air Act. Make no mistake, that is what we are doing here today. . ."

    Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) President issued a statement saying, "Today the U.S. House of Representatives made a stark choice, and put pollution over children's health. The TRAIN Act, if it becomes law, will result in more than 25,000 premature deaths in the first year alone, due to smog, soot, and toxic air pollution. There will be more than 175,000 more asthma attacks, many of them in children. This was no less than a fight about the integrity of the Clean Air Act, and clean air lost. Opponents of these common sense rules make the patently false argument that we can't have both clean air and a strong economy. Actually, analysis has shown that the economic benefits of enforcing the Clean Air Act outweigh the costs 30 to 1. . ."

    Franz Matzner, climate and legislative director for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said, "The House effectively tied the health of our children and all Americans to the tracks and plowed right over us today. By blocking clean air provisions that have been in the works for years, the TRAIN Act derails protections that studies show would prevent tens of thousands of deaths and hospital visits and millions of lost work and school days. . . "Next in the GOP's crosshairs are protections that would limit the toxic pollution from cement plants and other industrial polluters. . ."

    Access a release from House Republicans on the passage of the bill (click here). Access the Floor statement from Rep. Sullivan's (click here) Access details of the roll call vote (click here). Access the support letter from BRT (click here). Access the OMB Statement of Administration Policy (click here). Access the statement from Rep. Waxman (click here). Access the Floor statement from Rep. Markey (click here). Access the statement from EDF (click here). Access the statement from NRDC (click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 2401 (click here). [#Air]

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