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Resolution of Disapproval of EPA Rule--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BUNNING. Mr. President, I rise today to strongly support the senior Senator from Alaska's resolution of disapproval over the Environmental Protection Agency's regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. The EPA has completely overstepped its bounds with this action and I am proud to support Senator MURKOWSKI's effort to undo this harmful regulation.

A colleague of mine, currently serving here in the Senate, once remarked that: ``Overburdensome and unnecessary Federal regulations can choke the life out of small businesses by imposing costly and often ineffectual remedies to problems that may not exist.''

This statement was made by the majority leader and I could not agree more with it, especially when staring such a problem in the face as we have here with EPA's draconian new rules. The majority leader's statement was made in 1996 shortly after passage of the Congressional Review Act. This important tool, designed to rein in out of control Federal bureaucracies, is the same tool that we are using today in this disapproval resolution currently being debated.

Make no mistake--the Congressional Review Act was designed to take on this exact sort of executive overreach. The Obama administration's EPA is making a huge power grab by twisting the principles of the landmark Clean Air Act and declaring greenhouse gas emissions a danger to public health and welfare. Now, I will not use this time today to debate the science of greenhouse gas effects on climate change, nor the effects of climate change on the planet. However, greenhouse gases are found naturally in abundance in our atmosphere. In fact, the most famous greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, is emitted whenever we exhale. The purpose of the Clean Air Act was to reduce substances toxic to humans, not substances that are not directly harmful to us.

Because the Clean Air Act was not designed for this kind of regulation, the actions EPA has taken will not work and will have a devastating effect on the economy and business in the United States. Carbon dioxide will be considered a ``regulated air pollutant'' under these regulations, thus requiring EPA to massively increase the number of entities it will regulate. In fact, the number of permits for new or modified construction will soar from 280 to 41,000. The additional Title V permits, which are required to begin these operations, will explode from 14,700 to 6.1 million applications. This would seem to me to be a regulatory burden on an agency that cannot possibly be met without a massive infusion of taxpayer dollars.

Thus, we know that an enormous amount of new entities will come under the regulation of the Clean Air Act. Who will be newly roped into this government regulation? Essentially anyone, such as office buildings, apartment complexes, large retail stores, small businesses, farms, hospitals, power plants, and schools. It is difficult to fathom just how massively intrusive this Federal expansion will be.

This action by EPA also represents a rule by fiat of government bureaucrats. The Clean Air Act as written makes no mention of addressing global warming. To change this, the elected representatives of the people, Congress, should be the ones making the decision, not unelected bureaucrats in Washington. When Congress considers legislation, the people who elected them expect that they will consider all the effects of what is being debated. The EPA does not have this consideration, which is obvious by the way they have completely disregarded any and all of the economic consequences of their actions. Congress does, though, and has to weigh the effects of policies upon those that they will be implemented on. Elected officials need to be responsive to legislation such as this that will prevent the strengthening and recovery of the American economy. For instance, Congress can factor in the extremely poor timing of this as our economy is trying to drag itself out of recession. However, proponents of this regulation in the Obama administration know it will not pass Congress, so they are trying to do it by bureaucratic fiat instead of letting the elected representatives of the people work out a reasonable compromise to the problem.

It is for these reasons that I strongly support the Murkowski resolution of disapproval over EPA's actions. I hope the majority leader remembers what he said almost 15 years ago about the burdens of unnecessary regulation and the use of these sorts of resolutions. I hope our other colleagues heed his advice, as I intend to, and vote to support this resolution.


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