EPA Emissions Ruling Weakens Small Businesses

March 24, 2009

WASHINGTON. D.C. – House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Darrell Issa (R-CA) today sent a letter to Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner questioning the impact an impending greenhouse gas “endangerment finding” will have on thousands of American small- and medium-sized businesses.

“Even in this time of economic uncertainty, we still rely on America’s small businesses to be the economic engine that powers our economy, providing jobs and opportunity to millions of workers and their families,” Issa said.  “I am concerned that the EPA’s push to issue an endangerment finding on an accelerated timetable is at odds with the Administration’s efforts to encourage new growth and investment in our economy.  Such a finding would place thousands of already struggling small businesses in a legally uncertain position, further threatening their survival.”

The finding, and concomitant regulations under the Clean Air Act (CAA), would fuel efforts to heavily tax greenhouse gas emissions, delivering yet another body-blow to our struggling economy.

“The issuance of an endangerment finding sets in motion an irreversible process of regulation and remediation from which small businesses cannot escape,” cautioned Issa.  “Given the daunting challenges U.S. workers face – and the onerous provisions automatically attached to such a move – why must the EPA issue the finding now?  I sincerely hope that the Administration is not proceeding at break-neck speed in order to force Congress’ hand in the climate change debate.”

Issa noted that the EPA prevaricates in public statements when it says that “the proposed finding does not impose any new regulatory burdens on any projects.”  However, the environmental organization Earthwatch touts the endangerment finding as a tool to block construction of new energy projects.  Moreover, many groups note that nothing in the CAA prevents the application of the finding to every greenhouse gas source above a certain threshold – small businesses, farms, churches and schools are all fair game.

“Certainly the White House learned from the AIG fiasco: a predictable and stable regulatory environment is the keystone in a flourishing economy,” Issa said.  “If a business does not know whether, when and how it will be hit with new taxes and new compliance obligations, it will not embrace the entrepreneurial investments needed to grow and prosper.”

On March 12th, Issa sent a similar letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and has yet to receive a response.

The full text of both letters is available here.

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