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Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, reserving the right to object.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from California.

Mrs. BOXER. I just 2 minutes ago got a copy of what my dear friend is going to offer, and here we go again with a series of environmental riders that have nothing to do with this bill, that would change laws that protect our rivers and our streams, and involve the EPA making sure we prevent oilspills.

Frankly, I am objecting to this at this time unless I know we are going to have a 60-vote threshold; otherwise, I will put us in a quorum call at this time.

Mr. INHOFE addressed the Chair.

Mrs. BOXER. I have the floor because I am reserving the right to object.

Mr. INHOFE. No, I have the floor.

Mrs. BOXER. All right. Go ahead.

Mr. INHOFE. First of all, I would not object to a 60-vote threshold in order to get things to move along. I would say my good friend from California has seen this bill several times before, and several months ago we actually had a vote on it, but I have no objection.

Mrs. BOXER. Thank you so much.


Mrs. BOXER. If I could ask my colleague a couple questions, if he would engage in a colloquy with me.

Mr. REED. I will yield.

Mrs. BOXER. I know the Senator from Rhode Island--and I appreciate what he said about how sweeping this is. The Senator has the amendment in front of him, does he not?

Mr. REED. I have the amendment, yes.

Mrs. BOXER. I need to say here, please, colleagues, this is not any kind of an extension of time. This says:

No funds made available under this Act shall be used to implement or enforce with respect to any farm. .....

And it goes through the Spill, Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure rule.

Does my colleague read it the way I do? This is not an extension of time. This is a prohibition on EPA implementing the rule. Am I correct?

Mr. REED. I believe the Senator is absolutely correct. There is no time extension. One could argue that as this CR runs out maybe this provision would run out. But the intent of the bill is clearly that there is no money to be expended for any implementation against any farm.

Mrs. BOXER. Exactly.

Mr. REED. That is the language of the bill.

Mrs. BOXER. I want to ask my colleague a couple other questions.

Farmers are exempted if they store less than 1,320 gallons of oil aboveground or less than 42,000 gallons underground. That is the rule.

Is my colleague aware of that?

Mr. REED. Well, I thank the Senator for bringing that to my attention because one point I would make--and I think Senator Inhofe does want to engage also--but one point I would make is that in this EPA rulemaking process there is a requirement to evaluate the cost and benefits with respect to the rule. In that sense, many of these issues have been addressed, and they have been done so in a very careful way.

Two, it has been done by listening to--in fact, requiring legally to take the opinions, the comments of many people, stakeholders from all sides. And then, frankly, the other cost and the traditional cost to protest a rule is not to legislatively eliminate it, particularly in an appropriations bill, but to contest the rule in court based upon the facts.

Mrs. BOXER. Will my colleague yield for one more question? I know my colleague, Senator Inhofe, wants to speak. By the way, we have a deep friendship. But this is something we have never agreed on.

I want to make a point about the EPA rule. Farmers storing any amount of oil, I say to my colleague, are exempted if an oilspill could not reasonably be expected to reach rivers and streams.

My colleague was talking about this as some Draconian rule. The fact is, even one quart of oil, used oil, can contaminate up to 2 million gallons of drinking water.

I am a little blindsided on this, I have to say to my friend. If he is going to keep on doing these riders on here that threaten the health of the American people, I wish he would take it to me and at least give me a personal heads up because this is something that is very serious, and I will be speaking more on it tomorrow.

I thank my colleague for yielding.

Mr. REED. I believe I still have the time.

Let me make one point. This is a complicated rule that has tried to balance various equities--environmental protection, protecting the navigable waters of the United States, recognizing small farms or farms where in no way their oil could reach down to where it should be exempt.

Here, on the other side, is an amendment that is very broad, open ended--no funds, all farms. I think in this context, I would urge my colleagues to resist the amendment.

I think the Senator from Oklahoma wants to speak.


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