EPA Rules Looks to Regulate Puddles, Energy Production, and Much, Much More

Published: Feb 26, 2015

The House Oversight Committee Subcommittee on the Interior today held a hearing to examine the impact of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rules to regulate air, water, and power generation.

 

HEARING HIGHLIGHTS

 “This benign sounding rule [EPA’s proposal to update the air quality standards for ground-level Ozone] is actually widely considered to be the most expensive rule in the history of the United States. Independent experts estimate the total possible cost of the rule at 1.7 trillion dollars and 1.4 million job equivalents lost per year.  This rule is so burdensome that some National Parks, the nation’s most pristine environments, will be found to violate the new standards,” Subcommittee Chairman Cynthia Lummis (WY-At Large) said during her opening statement.

“Time and time again the EPA has been in here talking about problems with mismanagement and waste and yet they want to go into our states and start telling people how to conduct their business,” Chairman Chaffetz said during his opening remarks.

“Do you believe that a depression in a farmer or rancher’s field is a navigable waterway,” Congressman Steve Russell (OK-05) asked Dr. Susan Tierney PhD. “Have you ever navigated on a puddle… because it seems that this would be a navigable waterway.”

KEY POINTS

CLEAN POWER PLAN: is a rule that requires states to develop plans to limit carbon emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electricity generating units. The goal of the rule is to reduce nationwide carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector by 30% from 2005 levels. The rule was proposed on June 4, 2014, and EPA announced that it plans to finalize the rule in mid-summer 2015. The Clean Power Plan is the flagship rule of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. Not only will the Clean Power Plan impose billions of dollars of costs on the American people, the rule as written, will unlawfully require states to alter their entire electricity plan.

NATIONAL AMBIENT AIR QUALITY STANDARDS FOR OZONE: The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to review NAAQS every five years. The current rule, enacted in 2008, set the ozone standard at 75 parts per billion (ppb). EPA’s proposed rule considers lowering the levels of ozone in the range of 65 to 70 ppb.  Industry stakeholders have estimated that the proposed ozone NAAQS rule could be the most expensive regulation ever enacted by EPA.  EPA is expecting to finalize the rule by October 2015.

WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES: In September 2013, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers announced a proposed rule defining the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act, what is commonly referred to as the Waters of the U.S. (WotUS) rule. However, it was not published in the Federal Record for notice and comment until April 2014.27 The rule was sent to the Office of Management and Budget for review on the same day.

HEARING SUMMARY

State Attorneys General have been outspoken about the regulatory overreach that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has undertaken during the Obama Administration. Comments submitted by the states to the EPA regarding the Clean Power Plan, National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Ozone, and the Waters of the U.S. criticize the broad regulatory interpretations taken by the EPA as well as the lack of authority at the agency to regulate their states.

The hearing heard testimony from two state Attorneys General about the impact that these rules will have on the states. [Testimony from Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, Testimony from Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge] [full witness list and testimony can be found here]

Leading economic consultants have identified that the cost of the Clean Power Plan and Ozone NAAQS rule are far beyond the cost estimates conducted by EPA.