The Subcommittee on Energy and Power, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), today held a hearing on a new legislative proposal that would protect consumers by ensuring transparency and oversight of major EPA regulations that may drive up energy costs.
The Energy Consumers Relief Act of 2013, set to be introduced by Rep. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), will require that before EPA finalizes any new energy-related rules estimated to cost more than $1 billion, the agency must submit a report to Congress detailing certain cost, energy price, and job impacts, and the Secretary of Energy must make certain additional determinations relating to the rule. EPA would be prohibited from finalizing certain rules if the Secretary of Energy determines the rule would cause significant adverse effects to the economy. "This bill is about letting the American people know if they may lose their jobs due to an EPA energy-related rule. Everyone wins with transparency, especially the American worker," said Cassidy.
"This bill would empower DOE to take a commonsense, look-before-you-leap approach to EPA's energy-related billion dollar rules. And given the prolonged weakness in the economy and stubbornly high gasoline prices and unemployment rates, it's a level of scrutiny that is long overdue and critical," added Chairman Whitfield.
Witnesses explained the need for transparency in the rulemaking process and welcomed the draft legislation, which would ensure a full review of EPA's largest energy-related rules. They testified that a thorough cost assessment is necessary to ensure EPA's rules will not have an adverse effect on energy prices and employment.
Paul Cicio, President of the Industrial Energy Consumers of America, explained the weight of EPA's costly regulations on businesses and the importance of transparency in making decisions about future investment. He said, "The EPA should not fear transparency of the economics of regulation -- they should embrace it as part of their regulatory reform efforts. Policymakers, including the EPA, must be mindful that manufacturing companies have choices as to where they build their facilities around the world. In this regard, the U.S. and its policies are in competition with other countries for these investments and jobs. This means that U.S. regulations must compete as well -- that is, to regulate in a manner that is cost-effective and implemented in time horizons that are responsible to the public health, but mindful of market realities."
Brendan Williams of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers called the legislation "a common sense measure that would inject transparency and scientific rigor back into the regulatory process." He added, "The Energy Consumers Protection Act will help better ensure energy costs and regulatory conflicts are given appropriate consideration in relation to future EPA regulations. Independent and thorough review by federal departments with expertise in energy and economic ramifications of regulations will serve as a check against EPA overstating or double counting benefits, minimizing costs. Most important, by requiring a report to Congress, it will increase transparency and give policymakers and consumers alike the opportunity to better understand the tradeoffs between increased regulation and economic activity."
"Common sense dictates that we should fully understand the cost of new regulations to jobs and the economy before they are implemented -- especially the highest-cost regulations as the nation continues to endure high energy prices and unemployment," full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).