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Nomination of Pamela K. Hamamto to be Representative of the United States of America to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, with the Rank of Ambassador

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ENZI. Madam President, I rise to offer an amendment to S. 2262 that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from a massive regulatory outreach. I understand under current procedure we are not allowed to do that, but I will explain it so when I can bring this amendment up, people will already know about it and join me in voting for it. It is similar to an amendment I offered last September to the energy efficiency bill. Unfortunately, the Senate majority leader blocked amendments from being considered. I am hoping that doesn't happen this time.

My amendment is simple and straightforward. It promotes the right of each 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 know the best way to address it. I hope my colleagues will support my effort.

The Environmental Protection Agency's move to partially disapprove of the State of Wyoming's regional haze will create an economic and bureaucratic nightmare that will have a devastating impact on western economies. The decision by the 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 would impose onerous regulations on powerplants that will, in turn, pass those increased costs in the form of higher energy prices on to consumers. These are the middle-class folks we keep talking about. It will also increase the cost for manufacturers, and that will drive them overseas, so that will eliminate jobs. So we are talking about a lot of impact.

That tells me the EPA's purpose is to ensure that no opportunity to impose its chosen agenda on the Nation is wasted. It doesn't seem to matter to them that their proposed rule flies directly in the face of the State's 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 backseat and grabbed the steering wheel to head this effort in its own previously determined direction. That isn't 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 that authority is purely for aesthetic value and not to regulate public health. Most importantly, the EPA shouldn't be using regulations to pick winners and losers in our national energy market. The cost for this rule is in the billions, and the bureaucratic evaluation says it will still have little or no actual effect. Why would we force the spending of billions for little or no actual effect?

This is a State issue, and Congress recognized that States would know how to determine what the best regulatory approach would be to find and implement a solution to the problem. The courts then reaffirmed this position by ruling in favor of the States' primacy on regional haze several times. The EPA ignored all of that clear precedent and, instead, handed a top-down approach that ignored the will and expertise of the State of Wyoming and other States.

This inexplicable position flies in the face of Wyoming's strong and commonsense approach to addressing regional haze in a reasonable and cost-effective manner.

I invite everybody to come to Wyoming. We have the clear skies. People can see more miles there than people can see here.

Of course, a lot of it out here is humidity, I think. But we do not have the regional haze they are talking about. The EPA's approach will be much more costly and have a tremendous impact on the economy and the quality of life not only in Wyoming but in neighboring States as well. Clearly, we cannot allow this to happen.

Every family knows when the price of energy goes up, it is their economic security--costing more--as well as their hopes and dreams for the future that are 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 does not. That 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 and America with no real benefits.

The plan does not even take into account other sources of haze in Wyoming such as wildfires. Wildfires are a problem on Wyoming's plains and mountains every year. It is a major cause of haze in the West. It makes no sense for the EPA to draft a plan that fails to take into consideration the biggest natural cause of the very problem they are supposed to be solving.

The Forest Service could do a lot of prevention if forest plans did not get delayed.

The State of Wyoming has spent over a decade producing an air quality plan that is reasonable, productive, cost-effective, and focused on the problem at hand. 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 will not adequately address the issue of regional haze.

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 issue. It only makes sense to me that Wyoming's plan be given a chance to work. It is more than a 10-year effort, and it will make a difference, and not at the cost that will be imposed.

It is only fair, and it is the right thing to do. I ask for the support of my colleagues.


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