MAKING FURTHER CONTINUING APPROPRIATIONS FOR FISCAL YEAR 2003
Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, as many of you know, in March of 2001, Senator Breaux and I wrote the first congressional letter on the New Source Review Program to Vice President Cheney in his capacity at that time as chairman of the National Energy Policy Development Group. Our letter stated that, unless reformed "EPA's flawed and confusing NSR policies will continue to interfere with our Nation's ability to meet our energy and fuel supply needs."
Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I publicly thank the administration for being responsive to the concerns of Senator Breaux and myself. I know it took real courage to pursue the NSR reforms. It took courage because the President knew that many people would misconstrue these reforms as a "sneak attack on the environment" in an attempt to score cheap political points and fundraise.
Despite the rhetoric we will hear today and have heard today about NSR reforms and the process of developing these reforms, make no mistake: President Bush's decision will result in a cleaner environment and greater energy security.
The Clinton administration developed draft proposals and accumulated over 130,000 pages of comments on NSR reform. In fact, on his last day at work on January 19, 2001, President Clinton's air chief with the EPA, Bob Perciasepe, wrote a letter, No. 1, outlining NSR reforms which are similar to the Bush administration's NSR reforms and which are almost identical and, No. 2, calling for the Bush administration to consider finalizing the reforms.
Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I very much look forward to seeing the fruits of the Clinton and Bush administrations' labors on this issue.
From my tenure as chairman of the Senate's Clean Air Subcommittee, I knew that New Source Review was a major issue for the energy sector. In fact, I held the very first congressional hearings on New Source Review in February of 2000 in Ohio. I could not believe my own ears. We heard from companies that were trying to make environmentally friendly modifications to their facilities being stopped dead in their tracks by, ironically, the Clean Air Act.
I was also shocked to hear that it took 4,000 pages of guidance documents to explain 20 pages of regulations. That is 4,000 pages of guidance documents just to explain 20 pages of regulations.
Since then, my shock at the absurdity of the NSR Program has not worn off. We, as a nation, need to rethink the manner in which we approach regulations. We all need to keep an open mind during the debates on various regulatory reform initiatives. I am sick of continually hearing that these are "sneak attacks on the environment." In fact, just the opposite is true. If we rethink regulation, we could find ourselves in a place where we can have far greater environmental protection and more reliable and diverse energy sources.
Congress and the executive branch must also do a better job of understanding how the various layers of regulations impact sectors of our economy. I normally have a chart which shows all of the different regulations that are going to be hitting the various regulated sectorsa chart that shows the refiners that are currently working at almost 100-percent capacity are going to be simultaneously hit with a number of regulations in the next few years. NSR will make it close to impossible for refiners to make these environmental upgrades. Now is the time to work together on these and other regulations to not only achieve the environmental goals but also ensure no disruption in fuel supply which would cause the price spikes that we know are inevitable.
Higher energy prices affect everyone. However, when the price of energy rises, that means the less fortunate in our society must make a decision between heating their home and keeping the lights on or paying for other essential needs.
During a recent EPW Committee hearing last year, Senator Voinovich's constituent, Tom Mullen, articulated this concern. Mr. Mullen stated that in a recent studywhich is well known and very well expectedon Public Opinion on Poverty, it was reported that 23 percent of the people in America have difficulty paying for their utilities. That is one out of every four Americans.
I will not support policies, such as NSR, that will hurt the poor in Oklahoma and around the Nation. Additionally, the lower environmental performance resulting from the current NSR Program impacts Americans in every tax bracket. NSR reforms enjoy the support of a wide range of interestsfrom the State attorneys general to labor unions to business groups.
Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, the environmental community does not have to answer to the American people when energy prices go through the roof. But the President of the United States does, and we do, too. I think the President is doing the right thing, and we should support him for it.
So, in summary, this is one of the rare things that both the Clinton administration and the Bush administration have proposed which enjoys support by virtually all the labor unions as well as the business organizations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other organizations, and the American people who want lower cost energy.
Mr. President, I am offering a second-degree amendment to Senator Edwards' rider on the New Source Review. In his amendment, Senator Edwards asks the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study on the impacts of implementing the NSR reform package and to delay the reforms in the interim.
In our judgment, there is no reason for this delay. We have delayed already for 10 years. We have been living with this thing for 10 years. We need reforms now.
Therefore, I am offering a second-degree amendment to allow the NSR final package to move forward, but to allow the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study. When the NAS completes its study, the EPA can then benefit from its results. I suggest that the National Academy of Sciences will be getting their information from the EPA because they are the ones who have accumulated all the data to date, and there is no more data that is available. There is nothing to be lost by offering this as a second-degree amendment. You would have the benefit of the NAS study as well as moving along the time for implementation.
There is simply no reason to delay the implementation of the final NSR package. The Edwards amendment calls for a study before the final New Source Review rules go final. I guess the Senator from North Carolina has not read the administrative record on the regulations. If he had, he would see that the EPA conducted a thorough environmental analysis of the final NSR proposals.
Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I would like to read from the EPA's own environmental analysis:
The overall effect of the final rule will be a net benefit to the environment.
My second-degree amendment calls for a NAS study to look at the impacts of the regulation after implementation of the final rules while allowing the regulations to go forward, thus allowing cleaner and more efficient technologies to be installed in our Nation's manufacturing centers.
Delaying these regulations would delay projects to create safer workplaces. The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, a member of the AFL-CIO, has recently opined against the proposed delay in the final package on the New Source Review. I would like to read just a small part of their letter and then will have the rest of the letter printed in the RECORD. This letter is a current letter dated today from the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. It says:
We have encouraged the Environmental Protection Agency to clarify the program as soon as possible, and oppose efforts in Congress to slow reform down. The efficiency and competitiveness of our facilities and the safety of our workers hang in the balance. This is a jobs and safety issue for millions of American workers.
Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, some supporters of the Edwards rider in its current form suggest that delay is justified because State officials seek it. Nothing could be further from reality. Two years ago, a unanimous resolution of the National Governors Association was passed. It says:
New Source Review requirements should be reformed to achieve improvements that enhance the environment and increase energy production capacity, while encouraging energy efficiency, fuel diversity and the use of renewable resources.
The Nation's environmental commissioners passed a subsequent amendment, stating:
The Environmental Council of the States adopts the provisions of the NGA [the National Governors' Association] policy. The Environmental Council of the States encourages the United States EPA to reform the New Source Review Regulations into a workable regulation that is easily understood and effectively implemented.
These positions reflect the true direction of the majority of States. I think there is a propensity in this body for us to think that wisdom in Washington is greater than that of the States. That is not true. So you have a unanimous resolution from the Governors as well as the Environmental Council of the States.
The bottom line is this: My second-degree amendment allows the EPA and the States to benefit from the wisdom of the National Academy of Sciences on the important issues of clean air policy. However, my amendment does not create potential dangers inherent in delaying the onset of the important and thoughtful administrative reforms of the NSR program.
So I offer a second-degree amendment to the Edwards first-degree amendment No. 67 and ask for its immediate
Mr. INHOFE. Let me respond to the distinguished Senator from Nevada.
First, this has nothing to do with tuna, dolphins, drilling, snowmobiles in the Tetons. The record of this President has been very good. We passed extensive brownfields legislation with the help of the Senator occupying the chair. My amendment included over 200,000 petroleum sites. The record has been good.
It is important, when you are talking about this issue, to talk about the Bush administration. This essentially came from the Clinton administration, not from the Bush administration. With the exception of a few technicalities which have been worked out to everyone's advantage, this is the Clinton administration's program.
Here is the statement made at the last day of the Clinton administration by Bob Perciasepe:
Over the last two years we have all worked hard to develop improvements to the New Source Review program. As I have discussed with you, I believe it is essential that this program have greater incentives for companies to employ the most effective emissions techniques voluntarily and give greater flexibility when companies take these voluntary actions.
And so then we had this study. Look at this study. It is 180 pages. The study comes to the conclusion that the overall effect of the final rule will be a net benefit to the environment. This is going to benefit the environment, not hurt it.
When the Senator from Nevada says, what do we say to senior citizens, I say what do we say to senior citizens when their energy costs go up, when they already have to decide whether to heat their homes or have food to eat.
We have studied this matter for 10 years. We don't need 6 more months. However, we are willing to have the NAS do a study, and they will use the same data the EPA used in coming up with the conclusion that this is not harmful, but it is good for the environment and health.
I will be joining my friend from Nevada in asking for a recorded vote on this second-degree amendment at the appropriate time.