SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011

Floor Speech

By:  Chuck Grassley
Date: March 16, 2011
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I believe there is a pending amendment, which hopefully we will vote on, called the McConnell amendment. It basically takes away from the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate greenhouse gases. The Environmental Protection Agency gets this power from a Supreme Court decision that said they had the authority to do so. That decision was about 2 or 3 years ago. It came about 16 or 17 years after the 1990 Clean Air Act was passed. Those of us who were around here and debated and worked on the Clean Air Act of 1990 don't remember any discussion about EPA under that legislation having the authority to regulate greenhouse gases, but obviously the Supreme Court read the law differently than we intended.

The Environmental Protection Agency was told it could regulate greenhouse gases. The Environmental Protection Agency did not have to do that, but I suppose they are like regulators, generally. Some ask: Why do cows moo? Why do pigs squeal? And why do regulators regulate? Because regulators know how to regulate, and that is all they know how to do. So they are going to issue a regulation if they think they have the authority.

The situation is this: If we don't take away the authority--and in a sense overturn the Supreme Court case--EPA is going to put us in a position of being economically uncompetitive with the rest of the world, particularly in manufacturing.

When you increase the cost of energy by anywhere from $1,800, under one study, to $3,000, under another study, per household, you are very dramatically increasing the cost of manufacturing. If we are worried about too many manufacturing jobs going overseas--and we if would let the EPA follow through with what they want to do, increasing the cost of energy--we will lose all our manufacturing overseas.

I have not checked the record, but my guess is a lot of my colleagues who are fighting the McConnell amendment and think it is not the right thing to do are the very same people who are very chagrined because jobs are going overseas and are blaming American industry.

Well, if we are going to pass a law that increases the cost of energy in this country, we are not going to have a level playing field with our competitors overseas. That is why I have always said, if we want to regulate CO

2, we need to do it by international agreement. Because if China is not on the same level playing field as we are, then we are going to lose our manufacturing to China and other countries.

It happens that China puts more CO

2 in the air than we do. Take China and Brazil and India and Indonesia, and they put a lot more CO

2 into the air than the United States does. Yet somehow EPA is of the view that the United States acting alone can solve the global warming problem? Well, even the EPA Director has testified before committees of Congress that if the rest of the world does not do it, we are not going to make a dent in CO

2 just by the United States doing it.

But the argument goes that the United States ought to show political leadership in this global economy we have, and if the United States would do something about CO

2, the rest of the world would follow along. But China has already said they are not going to follow along. Even Japan, which signed on to the Kyoto treaty, said they would not be involved in extending the Kyoto treaty beyond 2012.

If the United States did it by itself, under the guise of being a world leader and setting an example, and the rest of the world did not do it, Uncle Sam would soon become ``Uncle Sucker,'' and we would find our manufacturing fleeing the United States to places where they do not have regulation on CO

2, where energy expenses are not as high, and we would lose the jobs accordingly. In a sense, then, those people who have complained for decades about American manufacturing moving overseas would destine the United States to lose more of it.

I do not understand how people who are concerned about losing jobs overseas could be fighting the McConnell amendment. Because if we want to preserve jobs in America, our industry has to be competitive with the rest of the world. So I hope the McConnell amendment will be adopted, and I hope there will be some consistency in the reasoning of people who are concerned about the movement of jobs overseas, that it is intellectually dishonest to support EPA adopting regulations that are going to make America uncompetitive.

There is nothing wrong with seeking a solution to the CO

2 problem. There is nothing wrong with working on the issue of global warming. But it ought to be a level playing field for American industry so we can be competitive with the rest of the world and not lose our industry, not lose our manufacturing overseas, and not lose the jobs that are connected with it.

But it often is the case that when either the courts or the Congress delegates broad powers to the executive branch agencies, it seems like we give them an inch and they take a mile.

There are plenty of other examples as well--and I will go into some of them in just a moment--of EPA having some authority and moving very dramatically beyond what Congress intended in a way that does not meet the commonsense test.

The work of EPA on CO

2 is a perfect example of this kind of overreach. First of all, they did not have to do it just because the Supreme Court said they could do it. But like regulators, they want to regulate, and they are moving ahead.

I suppose they are moving ahead also because, in 2009, the House of Representatives passed a bill regulating CO

2--a bill that would have made the United States very uncompetitive, as I have stated the EPA will--but the Senate declined to take it up. I think this administration is intent upon getting the job done, and so they go to EPA to issue a rule because Congress will not pass the legislation it wants.

It is so typical of so many things this administration is doing; that because Congress will not pass a law they want, they see what they can do by regulation. So they are setting out to accomplish a lot of change in public policy that Congress declines to endorse, but they are going to act anyway. If they claim the authority to do it, they will probably get away with it and avoid the will of the people, the will of the people expressed through the Congress of the United States. So if Congress decides to not do something, can the administration ignore the will of the people? Yes, they can, if they want to, but they should not, in my judgment.

It brings me to not only the McConnell amendment but a lot of other things we should be doing around here to prevent this outrageous overreach by not only the Environmental Protection Agency but by a lot of other agencies as well.

Because when the EPA and other agencies promulgate rules that go beyond the intent of Congress--and never could have passed Congress--it undermines our system of checks and balances. The American people can hold their member of Congress accountable for passing laws they do not like. However, when unelected bureaucrats implement policies with the force of law that they would not have been able to get through the Congress--and that is without direct accountability when a regulator acts instead of Congress acting--something is very wrong, and it is against the will of the people.

I think it is time for Congress to reassert its constitutional role. We try to do this from time to time in a process called the Congressional Review Act. I recall last June the Senator from Alaska, Ms. Murkowski, proposed doing that on these very rules affecting CO

2. We did not get a majority vote, so it did not happen. Maybe in the new Congress such an attempt would get a majority vote.

We cannot apply that Congressional Review Act again to those same rules, so that brings about the McConnell amendment I am speaking about--to take away the authority of EPA to do it. But perhaps we can use the congressional Review Act on a lot of other issues yet that regulators are regulating maybe against the will of the people, and I hope we will.

But there is one measure Senator Paul has suggested and I ask unanimous consent to be added as a cosponsor to amendment No. 231.


Mr. GRASSLEY. He uses the acronym REINS, but it is called the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act. Basically, what it does--and I applaud Senator Paul for his amendment, and I will surely vote for it--and that is, when we delegate authority to agencies in the executive branch of government to write regulations, and if those regulations are considered ``major rules,'' then they would have to be submitted to the Congress for our approval before they can go into effect and then would also have to be signed by the President before they would go into effect.

It seems to me that is a natural extension of Congress's authority under the Constitution to legislate and to be the only branch of government that can legislate. It seems to me to be a very adequate check on out-of-control bureaucracy, that they can only do those things Congress intended they do in the legislation they pass.

I would extend my remarks on something a little bit unrelated to the McConnell amendment but still to the overreach of the Environmental Protection Agency; this is, in regard to some of their regulations on agriculture. When it comes to their regulation of agriculture, instead of EPA standing for Environmental Protection Agency, I think it stands for ``End Production Agriculture.'' That is not their intent. But in this city of Washington--and I describe it sometimes as an island surrounded by reality--it is evidence of not enough common sense being put into the thought process of issuing regulations. I could give several examples, but I may just give a few.

Before I give those examples, I wish to compliment EPA on one thing. A year or two ago, when one of their subdivision heads testified before Congress--and the issue was agriculture, and she said she had never been on a family farm, in the 20-some years they had been working in the EPA and yet dealing with agriculture issues--I invited her to a family farm and she came and showed a great deal of interest. We had a very thorough tour of some facilities in research, agriculture, and biofuels industries within our State. They were very thankful we did it. I believe it has helped their consideration of the impact that maybe some of their regulation writing has on agriculture.

But, still, I am not totally convinced. So I would use one or two examples of regulation that is out of control. One of them would deal with what I call the fugitive dust issue.

``Fugitive dust'' is a term EPA uses to regulate what they call particulate matter. The theory behind fugitive dust rules is that if you are making dust that is harmful, then you have to keep it within your property line. So let's see the reality of that.

You are farming. The wind is blowing, and you have to work in the fields. The wind is blowing so hard that you cannot keep the dust, when you are tilling the fields, within your property line.

Well, are you supposed to not farm? Are you supposed to not raise food? Are you supposed to not be concerned about the production of food that is so necessary to our national defense and the social cohesion of our society? Because we are only nine meals away from a revolution. If you go nine meals without eating, and you do not have prospects of it, are we going to have revolts such as they have in other countries because they do not have enough food? No, we have a stable supply of food in this country, so we do not have to worry about it. But suppose we did have to worry about it. Well, there is more to farming than just the prosperity of rural America. There is the national defense and social cohesion, and all those issues.

But the point is, they are thinking about issuing a rule--in fact, they started a process, 2 or 3 years ago, of issuing a rule maybe a year or two from now--hopefully, they will decide not to--that says you have to keep the dust within your property line.

I wonder, when I talk about the common sense that is lacking in this big city--not only in EPA, but in a lot of agencies--do they realize only God determines when the wind blows? Do they realize only God determines when soybeans have 13 percent moisture in September or October, and at 13 percent moisture you have to harvest them and you only have about 2 or 3 days of ideal weather to harvest them? When you combine soybeans, dust happens; and if dust happens and you can't keep it within your property lines, you are going to violate the EPA regulation. What are you supposed to do, shut down and let a whole year's supply of food stay in the field? No. Good business practices would say when beans get to 13 percent moisture, whether the wind is blowing or not, you are going to take your combine out into the field and not worry about the dust. Does somebody at EPA think John Deere and Caterpillar and New Holland and all of those companies are thinking about: Well, we have this problem with EPA; we have to do something about the dust and we have to control it coming out of our combines? Or, when our tillage equipment goes across the field we have to consider the dust that comes up from tilling the field? Well, we have asked these manufacturers. They don't have any solutions to these problems. I think they probably think it is ridiculous, after 6,000 years of agriculture throughout our society, that it is an issue. But there are people down at EPA who think it is an issue. So I use fugitive dust as one example as to whether they realize what they are doing to production agriculture.

Another one would be spilled milk. Milk has fat in it. So now they are saying if dairy farmers have above-the-ground tanks to store their milk, they are the same as above-the-ground oil tanks and they are going to have the same regulation applied to them as applied to petroleum. The compliance requirements on this have been delayed pending action on an exemption, so maybe this won't go through. But think how ridiculous it is that people at the Environmental Protection Agency are saying if you are a dairy farmer and you happen to spill a little milk, you have to follow the same environmental requirements as an oil company if they spill oil with respect to the cleanup. But that is where we are on these sorts of rules.

I have other examples such as Atrazine, and the potential application of Chesapeake Bay requirements to the rest of the country. But I hope we will take a look at this McConnell amendment that speaks to carbon dioxide plus the examples I have given of the harm EPA regulations will do to family farming and stop to think about it. We have to find ways to stop EPA from doing things that don't make common sense. I think a start would be to vote for the McConnell amendment, and I am going to vote for it.

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


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