U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today cautioned the Obama administration not to act unilaterally to expand the scope of a federal environmental review law in its effort to regulate greenhouse gases.
The Mississippi Senators are among 33 Senators who signed a letter to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) that takes issue with administration plans to finalize standards requiring agencies to address greenhouse gases under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), arguing that draft guidance issued by CEQ would erroneously expand the scope of NEPA. It argues that the nation's economic recovery would be hurt if the administration uses NEPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
"This administration should not be trying to get around statutory limitations to impose greenhouse gas regulations," said Cochran, who has cosponsored legislation to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from using guidance documents to expand its regulatory reach without congressional oversight (S.320).
"The latest attempt by the Obama Administration to regulate carbon dioxide represents a gross overreach by Washington bureaucrats," said Wicker. "At a time when more than 21.6 million Americans are struggling to find a full-time job, it is troubling that unwarranted regulations are adding another burden on our economy. Ending regulatory excess will help reignite the confidence our job creators need to fuel an economic turnaround that lasts."
The letter asks the CEQ to withdraw the draft guidance issued in February 2010 that is being used as the basis for the administration's plan to use NEPA to address greenhouse gas emissions. The Senators point out that judicial rulings and congressional actions show the limitations of NEPA as a regulatory tool to tackle global climate change issues.
"Congress has rejected all efforts to legislatively regulate the climate, and just last month during Senate budget votes twice rejected a carbon tax," the letter to CEQ chairwoman Nancy Sutley said. "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."
The correspondence goes on to say, "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 [greenhouse gas] requirement to the permitting process for project that would not face similar scrutiny in nations which the United States competes for investment, such as China, India or Russia."
Senator David Vitter (R-La.), ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, organized the letter to Sutley. In addition to Wicker and Cochran, it was signed by Senators: John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), John Thune (R-S.D.).