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Public Statements

Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I filed an amendment to S. 1392 that will prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from a massive regulatory overreach. It has been cosponsored by Senators BARRASSO and FLAKE.

My amendment is simple and straightforward. It promotes the right of a State to deal with its own problems. It returns the regulation of regional haze to where it properly belongs, in the hands of State officials who are more familiar with the problem and the best ways to address it.

I hope my colleagues will support my effort.

The Environmental Protection Agency's move to partially disapprove the State of Wyoming regional haze plan will create an economic and bureaucratic nightmare that will have a devastating impact on western economies. The proposal by EPA ignores more than a decade's worth of work on this subject by officials in my home State and seems to be more designed to regulate coal out of existence than to regulate haze. The haze we most need to regulate, in fact, seems to be the one that is clouding the vision of the EPA, as it promotes a plan that imposes onerous regulations on powerplants, that will, in turn, pass those increased costs in the form of higher energy prices on to consumers.

That tells me the EPA's purpose is to ensure no opportunity to impose its chosen agenda on the Nation is wasted. It does not seem to matter to them that their proposed rule flies directly in the face of the States' traditional and legal role in addressing air quality issues.

When Congress passed the 1977 amendments to the Clean Air Act to regulate regional haze, it very clearly gave the States the lead authority. Now the EPA has tossed them in the back seat and grabbed the steering wheel to head this effort in its own previously determined direction.

That is not the kind of teamwork and cooperation Congress intended. The goal of regulating regional haze is to improve visibility in our national parks and wilderness areas. The stated legislative purpose for the authority is purely for aesthetic value and not to regulate public health. Most importantly, the EPA should not be using regulations to pick winners and losers in our national energy market. This is a State issue. Congress recognized that States should know how to determine what the best regulatory approach would be to find and implement a solution to the problem.

The courts reaffirmed this position by ruling in favor of the State's primacy on regional haze several times. Unfortunately, that is not what happened in this case. The EPA ignored all of the clear precedents and instead handed a top-down approach that ignored the will and expertise of the State of Wyoming.

This inexplicable position flies in the face of the strong and commonsense approach of the State of Wyoming to addressing regional haze in a reasonable and cost-effective manner. The EPA's approach would be much more costly, and it would have a tremendous impact on the economy and quality of life not only in Wyoming but in the neighboring States as well. Clearly, we can't allow this to happen.

Preliminary estimates by the State of Wyoming show that the best available retrofit technologies and long-term strategies under the proposed rule would cost well over $1 billion--plus millions more every year in additional operational costs that gets passed on to the consumer.

I mentioned that Cheyenne needed some additional powerplants. They went out and found the best natural gas technology available and then found it wouldn't meet the new requirements. This is the best worldwide technology, and it won't meet the new requirements they wish to put on it. Again, those costs would be passed on to the consumers in the form of higher energy prices. Every family knows that when the price of energy goes up, it is their economic security, as well as their hopes and dreams for the future, that is threatened and all too often destroyed.

The EPA's determination to take such an approach would be understandable if it would create better results than the State plan. It doesn't. It admits that. One billion dollars in costs and then millions more each year, and it isn't going to give any better results than what the State plan is? What sense does that make? This is another reason why it makes no sense for the EPA to overstep its authority under the Clean Air Act to force Wyoming to comply with an all-too-costly plan that in the end will provide the people of Wyoming with no real benefits. Again, it is $1 billion up front, millions a year, and no real benefits.

The plan doesn't even take into account other sources of haze in the State, such as wildfires. We have those every year. They are a problem on Wyoming's plains and mountains. They are a major cause of haze in my home State. It makes no sense for the EPA to draft a plan that fails to take into consideration one of the biggest natural causes of the very problem they are supposed to be solving.

This is one that can be solved. The State of Wyoming has spent over a decade producing a plan that is reasonable, productive, cost-effective, and focused on the problem. The EPA has taken an unnecessary and unreasonable approach that violates the legislatively granted job of State regulators to address this issue. We cannot afford to increase the cost of energy to families, schools, and vital public services by implementing an EPA plan that won't adequately address the issue of regional haze. Again, there will be no noticeable effect--$1 billion up front, millions each year, and no noticeable effect. What sense does that make?

I know my colleagues will see the importance of this matter and support my amendment that will stop the EPA in its tracks and end its interference with Wyoming's efforts to address this very issue. It only makes sense to me that Wyoming's plan, which results from a more than 10-year effort, be given a chance to work. It is not only fair, it is the right thing to do.

I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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