U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, led a group of 32 senators urging the Administration to withdraw their draft guidance to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Senators contend that is not the intent of NEPA and will cause significant delays in permitting projects and slow our nation's economic recovery.
"Moving forward with this guidance flies in the face of the President's publicly stated goal to "streamline the permitting process,'" the Senators wrote. "This regulation would add a cumbersome and obtuse GHG requirement to the permitting process for projects that would not face similar scrutiny in nations with which the United States competes for investment, such as China, India or Russia."
Vitter has also introduced legislation to prohibit the regulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. unless and until China, India and Russia implement similar reductions. In addition to being a standalone bill, he introduced the legislation as an amendment to the Budget resolution in March.
Cosigning Vitter's letter to the Council on Environmental Quality today are: Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).
A copy of the Senators' letter is below. Click here for a pdf copy.
April 22, 2013
The Honorable Nancy Sutley
Council on Environmental Quality
722 Jackson Place, NW
Washington, DC 20503
Dear Chairwoman Sutley,
We are concerned about recent reports indicating the Administration intends to finalize standards requiring agencies to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Such a requirement would dramatically expand the scope of NEPA and is inconsistent with the intentions of the statute. Efforts to regulate GHGs using the NEPA process will cause significant delays in permitting projects and slow our nation's economic recovery.
On February 18, 2010, you released draft guidance outlining the Administration's vision for expanding NEPA to consider GHG emissions. The draft guidance ignores the fact that NEPA is a procedural statute focused on giving federal agencies and the public a better understanding of the environmental impacts of a project. Instead of following its intended purpose, your draft guidance expands the scope of NEPA to suggest that it is a statute designed to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
We are also concerned about the feasibility of your approach. Courts have made clear that NEPA analysis is only required for issues that can be directly and proximately linked to the stated impact of the proposed action that is being examined. Because it is impossible to directly and proximately link GHG emissions from a particular project to global climate change, requiring analysis and mitigation falls outside the scope of NEPA's purpose and process.
Congress has rejected all efforts to legislatively regulate the climate, and just last month during Senate budget votes twice rejected a carbon tax. Rather than accepting that such an effort will dramatically slow project delivery and job creation, the administration is attempting to use NEPA as a backdoor method to pursue a policy preference that cannot be passed through Congress.
Throughout his term, President Obama has stated a desire to "streamline the permitting process." We note the catch phrase has repeatedly come under scrutiny. Moving forward with this guidance flies in the face of the President's publicly stated goal. Additionally, it adds a cumbersome and obtuse GHG requirement to the permitting process for projects that would not face similar scrutiny in nations with which the United States competes for investment, such as China, India or Russia. We therefore urge you to withdraw the draft guidance posted on February 18, 2010.
Also available in PDF format below: