U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, today made the following statement after President Barack Obama announced plans to implement costly new regulations on power plants.
"The pattern of behavior from this administration is to hide their true plans from the public and conduct business without transparency," said Vitter. "Their plans, often developed in secret, result in job loss and added costs to taxpayers. In almost the same breath, he laid the groundwork to implement regulations akin to a carbon tax -- which would frustrate economic recovery; and waivered on the Keystone pipeline -- which would obviously be a huge job creator."
In President Obama's speech, he stated that the administration will be working closely with other countries to reduce and regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Vitter and EPW Republicans have long questioned the economics behind regulating businesses in the United States, while China, India, and Russia, some of the world's largest carbon emitters, and do not show interest or willingness to do the same.
President Obama also hedged his support of the Keystone XL pipeline, saying, "Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation's interests. Our national interest would be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution." Keystone is estimated to create over 20,000 direct jobs and over 100,000 indirect jobs through carrying nearly one million additional barrels per day of North American oil supplies to U.S. refineries. Vitter has continually urged President Obama and administration officials to move forward with Keystone XL.
Last week, White House energy advisor Heather Zichal said, "Going forward, obviously the EPA is going to be working very hard on rules that focus specifically on greenhouse gas emissions from the coal sector. They're doing a lot of important work in that space."
Below are several questions that Gina McCarthy, the nominee to head the EPA, answered on the record during her nomination proceedings, suggesting the EPA was not involved.
Questions for the Record from Sen. Vitter to Gina McCarthy, nominee to be EPA Administrator
The questions were submitted on April 15. Responses were received on April 30.
Question: What health benefits are projected to occur as a result of an existing source NSPS - that is, benefits other than the co-control of criteria pollutants or NESHAPS?
Answer: At this time, EPA is working to finalize the proposed NSPS for new power plants. The agency is not currently developing any existing source GHG regulations for power plants. As a result, we have performed no analysis that would identify specific health benefits from establishing an existing source program.
Question: What plans does EPA have to adopt new GHG regulations for existing power plants? Specifically, has your office prepared draft regulations, what regulatory options are you considering, and what is the likely timeline for such action?
Answer: EPA is not currently developing any existing source GHG regulations for power plants. Accordingly, the Office of Air and Radiation has not prepared draft regulations. The office's current work is focused on reviewing the comments submitted in response to the proposed carbon pollution standard for new power plants under section 111(b).
Question: Once EPA finalizes its proposed NSPS for GG Emissions for New Stationary Sources: Electric Generating Units (EGUs), does the agency intend to propose regulations under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act to establish procedures whereby states set standards of performance for GHG emissions from existing EGUs in their jurisdiction? If so, does EPA agree that it can only issue guidance to the states on regulating GHG emissions from power plants and that each state must submit a plan to the agency that sets standards for performance for existing power plants within the state? Will EPA discuss its plans for the guidance with states prior to issuing such guidance?
Answer: EPA is not currently developing any existing source GHG regulations for power plants. As a general matter, the provisions of section 111(d)(1) are plain on their face to the extent that they require EPA to "prescribe regulations which shall establish a procedure under which each State shall submit a plan which establishes standards of performance for any existing source ." In the event that EPA does undertake action to address GHG emissions from existing power plants, the agency will ensure, as it always seeks to do, ample opportunity for the public and stakeholders to offer meaningful input on potential approaches.
Question: Has the agency done any legal analysis of the challenge of regulating greenhouse gases from powerplants under 111(d)? Can you share it with me?
Answer: At this time, EPA is working to finalize the proposed NSPS for new sources. The agency is not currently developing any existing source GHG regulations. In the event that EPA does undertake action to address GHG emissions from existing power plants, the agency would ensure, as it always seeks to do, ample opportunity for States, the public and stakeholders to offer meaningful input on potential approaches.