Congress continues to battle EPA on proposed rules to protect public health

By: Molly Biron, WE ACT DC Policy Intern

6/4 House Hearing Blog: Science, Space, and Technology Committee: EPA Regulatory Outreach: Concerns for American Competitiveness

The Republican chaired Science, Space, and Technology Committee has jurisdiction over matters pertaining to several areas, including Environmental Protection Agency, research and development; environmental standards; climate change research and development;

Chairman Smith (R-Tx) convened a recent oversight hearing to examine the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) three recent proposed regulations on Air and Water. Smith’s committee and witness members spoke to the alleged lack of scientific and technical justification for these propositions and their impact on American competitiveness. The conservative resistance to more stringent regulations were echoed and upheld as usual by centering around prospective economic deficits for allegedly unnecessary, ineffective, and financially burdensome compliance measures. Witnesses provided testimony on the proposed EPA Clean Power Plan (CPP), the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Ozone, and the revised definitions in Waters of the United States, ironically renamed “Clean Water Rule.”

Three conservative professionals and one liberal doctor sat on the witness panel. Conservative witnesses included Kerr, President of his own Environmental Services Corporation with an expertise on waters regulations. Kerr dissented from the EPA’s Clean Water Rule arguing that they failed to clarify existing definitions, and expanded federal liberties and jurisdiction beyond their legal authority. He particularly focused his concern over adjacent waters’ new ambiguity in the Clean Water Rule, while Chairman Smith responded to this testimony with ridiculing enjoyment over the EPA’s pioneer use of the word “drizzle” regarding typically dry ditches and tributaries.

Kovacs perpetuated conservative ideals on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce and his position as Vice President to Environment, Technology, and Regulatory Affairs. His arguments centered around EPA’s alleged habitual tardiness to Congressional mandated deadlines for submitting propositions and research, continuing to highlight the lack of completed research on their regulations’ impacts on job loss and employment rates.

Eisenberg provided testimony related to his position as Vice President to Energy and Resources Policy for the National Association of Manufacturers. His concern in EPA’s proposed regulations is a valid one, specifically in regards to the CPP and NAAQS for Ozone. His argument rested in maintaining the status quo and praising existing emission reduction and efficiency progress, an argument upheld by many subsequent conservative committee members’ remarks. Eisenberg insisted the newest technologies are currently employed, and support from members expressed fear for said current, steady progress to be compromised by setting new expectations unreasonably far. Strong support to the aforementioned witnesses’ testimonies were heard by Babin (R-Tx), Rohrabacher (R-Ca), Knight (R-Ca), Loudermilk (R-Ga), Johnson (R-Oh), Palmer (R-Al) and Chairman Smith.

Liberal voices were heard scarcely in the room today, but memorable notes made by witness Dr. Paulson, committee members Bonamici (D-Or), Edwards (D-Md), Beyer (D-Va) and Ranking Member Johnson (D-Tx) upheld an expected focus on public health and safety, climate change urgency, and credit to American professionals’ innovation and global leadership. Bonamici clarified ambiguity among definitions by quoting EPA’s Clean Water Rule regarding exempted waters and owners’ rights in light of property violation concerns, among others. There were a great deal of articles and data submitted to the record by supporting misrepresentation and overestimated research-based conservative arguments. Examples focused around job loss versus job creation and expected financial deficits due to compliance efforts.

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