House Republicans used a Wednesday hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget to attack various regulations being pursued by the agency.
{mosads}Most of the fights focused around the EPA’s proposals to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, but other regulations also got attention.
“EPA seems intent on locking in a long list of new regulations that will bind future administrations,” Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said at the hearing of two subcommittees of the panel.
“If this plan puts reliable base load energy from sources such as coal and nuclear in danger, communities may face higher costs and potentially suffer brownouts when most in need,” said Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), chairman of the environment subpanel.
“We have to ask ourselves if this path leads to the energy future Americans expect.”
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy defended her rulemaking agenda and the agency’s funding request for fiscal 2016, asking for $8.59 billion, a $452 million increase over what it received in the most recent year.
The budget “provides the resources that are vital to protecting human health and the environment while building a solid path forward for sustainable economic growth,” she said.
McCarthy said almost half of the funds would go straight to states.
She highlighted the $1.1 billion for fighting climate change and air pollution.
“These resources will help protect those most vulnerable to climate change impacts and the harmful effects of air pollution through commonsense standards, guidelines and partnership programs,” she said.
Democrats stood by McCarthy’s plans.
“That is the minimum level, in my opinion, that EPA needs to begin address the many environmental challenges we’re facing today,” Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the panel, said of the EPA’s request.
Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) drew attention to the EPA’s power plant rules as a significant step to fight climate change.
“If it was appropriate, I’d get up and ask for a standing ovation, but I don’t think that would be appropriate at this point in time,” he told McCarthy. “But you understand how we feel about you on this side.”
While Republicans weren’t fond of the budget request, they spent most of their time criticizing regulations.
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the energy and power subcommittee, questioned whether the EPA has the legal authority for its power plant rules, but McCarthy said she felt “very confident” that the rules align with the Clean Air Act.
Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) criticized the EPA’s propose to cut down on ground-level ozone pollution.
Houston, he said, has made “great strides” in reducing ozone, “but the proposal EPA has released will land like of brings … on most of the country.”
Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) challenged the legality of the EPA’s proposed carbon rules for newly built coal power plants. He said the rules must be based on pollution levels that are attainable, but carbon capture and sequestration projects continue to close down or be canceled.
“My concern is … I’m not sure that EPA’s actually following the law on this,” he said. “So I want to know, are you reviewing anything to withdraw the rule and start over so you can really adhere projects that are viable and can work us towards this goal?”
McCarthy said she is very confident that carbon capture is attainable.
“The record that EPA produced in our proposed rule went well beyond data from those facilities,” she said. “We feel very confident that the use of CCS technology at the levels that we’re proposing it will be a viable option for coal to continue to be part of the future of this and other countries, and that we’re supporting investment in CCS.”
Tags Environmental Protection Agency Frank Pallone Fred Upton Gina McCarthy John Shimkus
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