EPA Regulatory Relief Act

Floor Speech

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: Nov. 16, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Today, I would like to begin once again by focusing on a piece of jobs legislation that Republicans in the House have recently passed with significant bipartisan support and by calling on the Democratic majority in the Senate to follow the lead of the House Republicans by taking up this legislation and passing it right here in the Senate.

The legislation I would like to highlight is H.R. 2250, the EPA Regulatory Relief Act. This legislation passed the House overwhelmingly last month. Forty-one Democrats supported it over in the House. Senator Collins has introduced a similar bill here in the Senate. It has strong bipartisan support.

Most Americans are probably aware by now that the Obama administration is crushing businesses across the country with a mountain of redtape and new regulations that it imposes outside of the legislative process. When asked about their challenges, small business owners now rank these regulations at the very top of the challenges they face.

One of the chief offenders is the EPA, and one of the most potentially damaging regulations this redtape factory has proposed relates to the boilers that are used by just about every manufacturer or institution in this country that doesn't get the power it needs from standard utilities.

Right now, EPA wants to force anybody with an industrial-sized boiler to change their facilities to comply with a burdensome new regulation that, according to one study, could put 230,000 jobs at risk.

So here is what Senator Collins has in mind that the EPA Regulatory Relief Act would do about all of this problem. Here is what it would do to protect jobs right here in America:

First, Senator Collins' bill would provide more time for EPA to issue regulations for industrial, commercial, and institutional boilers, process heaters, and incinerators. This is the time EPA itself has indicated it needs in
order to collect more data and analysis and to finalize the rules, so it gives EPA what it says it needs.

More specifically, it would provide EPA 15 months from the date of the bill's enactment to repropose and finalize the new boiler rules, which I want to emphasize the EPA has actually already requested at this time. This bill would also extend the compliance deadlines from 3 to 5 years, which would allow companies adequate time to comply with the new standards and install the required equipment.

Crucially, this bill would also direct the EPA to ensure that the new rules are achievable and realistic. We all recognize the vital role the EPA plays in keeping the air we breathe and the water we drink clean and safe. We also need to get some commonsense limits on its actions, and that means putting in place laws that protect Americans against the kind of regulatory overreach that too many unelected bureaucrats in Washington seem to live for these days, especially in these challenging economic times.

As I said, this bill has a lot of support not only from Republicans but from Democrats here in the Senate. In fact, 12 of the bill's cosponsors are Democrats. Like me, they understand and appreciate how these new rules would adversely affect jobs and manufacturing in this country, and they want to work with us to do something about it. So this is the perfect example of an issue on which the two parties actually agree. The perfect example.

Senator Ron Wyden supports this bill because it directs the EPA to go back to the drawing board and craft boiler rules that are more in line with what is realistic from mills and factories, he said. Senator Wyden argues that the EPA itself has admitted its boiler rules need to be fixed.

Here is how Senator Landrieu put it over the summer:

With manufacturing being one of our bright spots in our economic recovery, we cannot afford to jeopardize the industry's health and the high-paying jobs it supplies to this country. This legislation will give the EPA the time extension it needs to craft a balanced approach that not only keeps our environment clean, but also our economy strong .....

This legislation is supported by the American Forest and Paper Association, the National Association of Manufacturing, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Business Roundtable, the Biomass Power Association, and around 300 other business groups. Too many jobs are at stake for the Senate not to act on this legislation that has actually already passed the House. I have previously mentioned an Ohio paper mill where 200 jobs are at stake as a result of this rule. The American Forest and Paper Association says 700,000 jobs in the paper industry alone are also at risk.

The Republican House has done its job. Now it is time for the Senate to act. Let's take up the EPA Regulatory Relief Act, pass it, and send it on down to the President for his signature.

If Democratic leaders cannot agree to take up and pass legislation the two parties actually agree on, then what will they agree to pass? Let's follow the House's lead and show the American people we can work together on this commonsense, bipartisan bill to protect jobs in American manufacturing.