Monday, July 02, 2012

House Hearing On GHG Rules & D.C. Circuit Opinion

Jun 29: The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, chaired by Representative Ed Whitfield (R-KY), held a hearing with EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Gina McCarthy to discuss EPA's greenhouse gas regulations. EPA's McCarthy was the only witness. Rep. Whitfield indicated in a release that the hearing comes on the heels of June 26, ruling by U.S. Appeals Court, D.C. Circuit upholding EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases [See WIMS 6/26/12]. He indicated that "members fear [the decision] will expand EPA's overreach to affect thousands of small businesses" and said, "The end result of the court's ruling is that Obama EPA's backdoor carbon tax remains in effect. So now we have an Obama health care tax and a carbon tax."
    Full Committee Chairman, Fred Upton (D-MI) said in an opening statement, "Earlier this week, a federal court upheld key portions of EPA's greenhouse gas regulatory agenda. No question, it was a victory for the Obama EPA. However, it is important to note that federal courts can only decide whether agency rules pass legal muster -- not whether they are a good idea. And the GHG regulatory agenda is proving to be a very bad idea. Policy decisions belong in Congress, and Congress needs to stop the threat to our economic future posed by GHG regulations.
    "Something else happened recently that in its own way is bigger news than the court decision. Both Alpha Coal and Arch Coal announced that they are shutting down several mines and that hundreds of miners will lose their jobs – adding to the list of victims in the war on coal that is an integral part of EPA's GHG regulatory agenda. The sad reality is that we are no longer just predicting job losses; we are beginning to see them. . . Overall, the threat to our economy from the GHG regulatory agenda – to jobs, prices, and global competitiveness - is becoming harder to deny."
    Full Committee Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) said in an opening statement, "I'm sorry to hear the statement about people losing their jobs in the coal industry. I know that is very difficult for those people and their families, but I would respectfully submit that if they're losing their jobs, it's not because of regulation. It's primarily because they're not able to compete in the marketplace where natural gas is cheaper. Today's hearing continues the 18-month Republican attack on the Clean Air Act, EPA regulations, and the science that informs our understanding of the effects of air pollution. . . The most shameful aspect of this anti-environment campaign is the denial of science. There is no way to govern responsibly if you refuse to accept the findings of the National Academy of Sciences and the rest of the scientific community. . ."
    "The question we should be asking is not what we can do to stop reasonable regulations, but how we can help the families whose homes are being burned in Colorado Springs and flooded in Saint Petersburg, and how we can help the families who are losing jobs in the coal industry, because that industry is refusing to recognize reality."
    McCarthy submitted 16-pages of testimony and said in part, "On June 26, the U.S. Court of Appears for the D.C. Circuit upheld EPA's endangerment finding, its greenhouse gas emission standards for light duty vehicles and its Tailoring Rule, which, as explained below, establishes a phased approach for applying certain Clean Air Act permitting requirements to stationary sources based on greenhouse gas emissions -- focusing on large sources. The Court confirmed that EPA followed both the science and the law in these actions. In upholding the endangerment finding, the Court stated: "The body of scientific evidence marshaled by EPA in support of the Endangerment Finding is substantial." The court also confirmed that the Clean Air Act required EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks, and that the Act 'unambiguously' requires application of relevant stationary source permitting programs to greenhouse gases Finally, the court ruled that the litigants in the case are not harmed by EPA's Tailoring Rule -- which establishes a phased approach to stationary source permitting for greenhouse gases –and therefore lack standing to challenge it. . ."
    She concluded, "Greenhouse gas pollution, through its contribution to global climate change, presents a significant threat to Americans' health and to the environment upon which our economy and security depends. EPA over the past three years has proceeded in a careful and deliberate manner, in keeping with the requirements established by Congress under the Clean Air Act, to begin limiting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas pollution from the largest-emitting categories of mobile and stationary sources. The history of the Clean Air Act since 1970 makes clear that clean air and a healthy economy have gone hand in hand. The Act has created market opportunities that have helped to inspire innovation in cleaner technologies – technologies in which the United States has become a global market leader. Reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas pollution will require a gradual transition to cleaner energy sources and more efficient energy production and use. This transition is essential to the long-term protection of public health and the environment and, ultimately, offers real and meaningful economic opportunities to American consumers, entrepreneurs, and businesses."

    Access a Republican release on the hearing including some video clips (click here). Access the Republican hearing website with links to opening statements, background and testimony (click here). Access the Democratic hearing website with opening statement, testimony and a webcast of the hearing (click here). Access the complete D.C. Circuit opinion (click here). [#Climate, #Air]

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