Voinovich still wants 'comprehensive' EPA analysis of climate bill

Voinovich also wants the Energy Information Administration, an arm of the Energy Department that tracks and analyzes energy data, to study the climate legislation.

“The EPA does excellent work, but analysis by EIA – whose focus and expertise lies on our nation’s energy infrastructure – will be an invaluable tool to the Senate’s understanding of the bill,” Voinovich wrote.

And he wants the studies to analyze the costs of separate state efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. The climate bill that Kerry, Graham and Lieberman have worked to put together for months is expected to preempt some state activities but not all, Voinovich said.

“Having a firm sense of the costs can help ensure that climate legislation protects consumers, jobs and the economy, and makes real progress in improving the environment,” Voinovich wrote.

Here’s his letter:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
522 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC  20510
 
Dear Leader Reid:
 
Last year, I joined my colleagues on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in protesting the decision by the committee’s majority to consider complex and far-reaching climate legislation without understanding its full economic impacts.  I continue to stand by that decision; as Senators, it is our responsibility to understand the implications of the votes we take on our economy and environment, as well as our respective states and the nation.
 
In the aftermath of the Kerry-Boxer vote, I was encouraged by your spokesman who said you agreed that it was necessary to have a complete economic analysis of legislation debated on the Senate floor.  I was likewise pleased last year when Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Jackson agreed to my request to run a comprehensive analysis of the bill “being assembled for consideration by the full Senate.”  In that letter, Administrator Jackson agreed to analyze the differing economic impacts resulting from various scenarios of technology development and deployment, as well as the availability of domestic and international offsets, and the effects of U.S. policy on global greenhouse gas emissions.
 
Recent reports that legislative text has been sent by Senator’s Kerry, Graham and Lieberman for modeling are encouraging.  However, to ensure the Senate has the information necessary to have an informed debate on legislation that might be proffered, I would like to underscore a few points.
 
First, we must have a comprehensive analysis that incorporates changes made between the bill’s release and its consideration on the floor.  As you are aware, comprehensive climate legislation of the type envisioned by Senator’s Kerry, Graham and Lieberman is exceedingly complex.  Moreover, modeling of similarly styled proposals shows us that the policy options that may be employed to regulate various sectors of the economy are sufficiently intertwined that even small changes to the bill can have significant effects on other regulated sectors and the cumulative economic impacts.  Understanding that changes will be made to the legislation in either the committee process or as the Majority Leader’s prerogative, I would ask that you ensure that comprehensive modeling be done on the legislative package that is presented for floor consideration. 
 
Second, I hope you agree that both EPA and Energy Information Agency (EIA) should analyze the legislation.  The EPA does excellent work, but analysis by EIA – whose focus and expertise lies on our nation’s energy infrastructure – will be an invaluable tool to the Senate’s understanding of the bill.  In addition, EIA’s status as an independent agency will provide a valuable point of comparison to EPA’s efforts. 
 
Third, the recent climate debate has included much attention on the question of federal preemption.  Because overlapping policies will create additional compliance hurdles and costs, I’m sure you would agree that a comprehensive analysis of the proposed legislation must include an assessment of the cumulative impacts of existing state and regional greenhouse gas programs and federal statutes to the extent that those programs are not preempted by the legislation.  For example, I understand that certain portions of the Clean Air Act may be preempted by the proposal, but not all.  There has also been talk of state greenhouse gas program preemption, but it is unclear to what degree and for how long that preemption might apply.  Moreover, federal climate policy is being advanced through a number of existing statutes, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, as well as common law torts.  To the extent that those programs are not preempted by the legislation under consideration, EPA and EIA should also analyze – to the extent possible – their accumulative costs.
 
I look forward to working with you on this important issue.  I believe a comprehensive economic analysis will help guide our deliberations in the Senate.  I am open to working with you and our Senate colleagues to assist the EPA and the EIA in conducting a complete cost analysis.  Having a firm sense of the costs can help ensure that climate legislation protects consumers, jobs and the economy, and makes real progress in improving the environment.
 
 
Sincerely,
George V. Voinovich
United States Senate
 CC:  EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson


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