Executive Summary for the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Hearing
on EPA Regulatory Overreach: Impacts on American Competitiveness
June 4, 2015
Mr. Bob Kerr (President, Kerr Environmental Services Corp.)
Mr. Bill Kovacs (Senior Vice President, Environment, Technology and Regulatory Affairs, U.S. Chamber of
Dr. Jerome A. Paulson (FAAP Chair, American Academy of Pediatric Council on
Environmental Health Executive Committee)
Mr. Ross Eisenberg (Vice President, Energy and Resources Policy, National Association of Manufacturers)
On June 4, 2015 the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing on several of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent proposals, including the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the stricter Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), and the definition of the “Waters of the United States.” According to EPA, the CPP is a flexible plan designed to cut 30% of the carbon pollution from power plants by 2030. Further, EPA proposed reducing NAAQS from the 2008 standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) to a range of 65 to 70 ppb. Finally, EPA submitted its final rule on the definition of “Waters of the United States,” which made the definition more specific compared to the draft legislation.
In his opening remarks, Chairman Smith (R-TX) called the CPP a “power grab” that will force states to reach arbitrary and often impossible targets for carbon emissions. He also mentioned that the CPP will impose “tremendous electricity costs” on everyday Americans by forcing several power plants to shut down. Chairman Smith also criticized the stricter NAAQS and noted that this would be the most expensive regulation in history with a price tag of almost $1.7 trillion. Finally, Chairman Smith contended EPA’s final rule on the “Waters of the United States” definition was EPA’s most recent attempt to expand its jurisdiction. For example, Chairman Smith noted EPA claimed unprecedented jurisdiction over many different kinds of water, including those that temporarily result from a “drizzle.”
Conversely, Ranking Member Johnson (D-TX) expressed frustration with the Majority’s resistance to EPA’s proposals. She claimed the resistance is hindering EPA from carrying out its mission. Furthermore, Representative Johnson argued the Majority’s resistance is unsupported by scientific evidence, and she contends this is proven by the fact that all the experts brought in by the Majority are outside the scientific community.
The panel of witnesses consisted of several experts within the water and manufacturing community and one doctor. Dr. Kerr, a wetlands consultant, expressed concern over the scope of EPA’s definition of “Waters of the United States.” In particular, he took issue with the broader definition of tributaries, which would now include certain ditches. He noted that one may argue the expansive definition would benefit him via more business for his consulting firm. However, he claimed that while the numbers of clients may increase, business will by no means be easier because the rule will ultimately lead to confusion, more litigation, and project delays.
Mr. Kovacs, a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, took issue with the deference given to EPA’s interpretation of statutes whenever Congress was silent or vague. Mr. Kovac also expressed concern over EPA’s unwillingness to provide the specific scientific data it uses when developing regulation. Finally, when asked by Representative Beyer to explain how EPA regulations are “job killers” when jobs are at an all time high, Mr. Kovac explained that regulations affect certain industries rather than the job market as whole. According to Mr. Kovac, many individuals in these effected industries are in a position where it is hard for the individual to find a replacement job. To determine the effects of EPA regulations, it is necessary to look to specific industries and communities and not rely on national data.
Dr. Paulson spoke mainly on the health effects of ozone on the American citizens. He emphasized that over 80% of the health burden of the changing climate is on children less than eight years old. He also claimed that a standard of 60 ppb is the ideal standard to prevent health problems. Dr. Paulson then told a story of young girl whose asthma worsened due to her proximity to a coal-fired factory. In response, Representative Loudermilk (R-GA) questioned Dr. Paulson on whether he knew where air pollution ranked on the World Health Organization’s list on the leading contributors to asthma. When Dr. Paulson could not answer, Representative Loudermilk vehemently reported that air pollution is ranked last on the World Health Organization’s list. The number one contributor is the air quality and sanitary condition of an individual’s home, which is further linked to poverty. Consequently, Representative Loudermilk argued, the very attempt at limiting carbon pollution is actually contributing to the incidence of asthma by causing people to lose jobs and increasing poverty.
Finally, Mr. Eisenberg represented the National Association of Manufacturers and conceded that regulations are essential. He also admitted that he believes in the mission of EPA. However, he stressed that EPA’s regulations need to be reasonable. He provided the following numbers: currently, manufacturers spend $19,000 per employee to comply with regulations – $10,000 of which goes towards environmental regulations. Any new regulations, like the regulations at issue during the hearing, just add to the cost of what manufacturers are already paying. Further, he stated that while manufacturers are always striving for improvements, the regulations are pushing the industry beyond what technology can offer. Finally, when discussing the NAAQS and CPP specifically, Mr. Eisenberg revealed that according to the regulations, two-thirds of the controls needed to comply with the regulations are called “unknown controls.” Thus, he argued, EPA provides little guidance on how to comply with the regulation, but penalizes manufacturers for non-compliance.
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