2013 Saw a 'Tsunami of Regulatory Actions' on Environment, Senate GOPs Charge

WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans maintain the Obama administration has kept the American public “in the dark” over detrimental regulations implemented to address global climate change.

A report issued by GOP lawmakers on the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee maintains the White House Climate Action Plan released earlier this year is “sweeping in breadth” and requires greater oversight than has thus far been provided, since it “has every area of the federal government working towards its goal of justifying a carbon-constrained economy.”

“The American people have been kept in the dark regarding the tsunami of regulatory actions, especially the CAP, which could have negative impacts on employment, job creation, and our national debt,” according to the report, a year-end review of administration environmental actions. “The administration appears to be mimicking the failed policies of other countries, including some of the world's largest carbon emitters.”

In June, President Obama released the Climate Action Plan, telling students at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., that "I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that's beyond fixing." Obama demanded a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and called for a greater dedication to renewable energy initiatives.

Most significantly, the president called for reducing carbon emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by the end of the decade. He issued an executive order directed at the Environmental Protection Agency seeking new regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The subsequent proposal, according to the report, “required adoption of a cost-prohibitive carbon capture and sequestration technology that is unavailable at a commercial scale, effectively prohibiting new coal-fired plants from being built.”

Those plans have not been embraced by Republican lawmakers. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), ranking member on the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, introduced legislation in March, seeking to cut off White House action, to prohibit the regulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. unless and until China, India and Russia implement similar reductions.

"At this point, the federal government should be doing everything it possibly can to encourage and support economic growth, especially in the industries that have proven to be successful -- instead they're slapping a mountain of new rules and regulations on our job creators,” Vitter said. “This means staying away from unnecessary requirements and restrictions, while maintaining an open and constructive dialogue with the private sector to figure out the best path forward.”

Regardless, Vitter said, the administration is “stuffing our economy with burdensome and expensive regulations."

The Obama administration should use “sound science that is independently verified when creating new rules and regulations,” the report said. Instead, the White House on a number of occasions “has been caught using less-than-legitimate numbers and controversial scientific studies to advance their political agenda.”

Before leaving for the holiday break, Vitter and seven other Republican members of the committee sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy renewing their request for information on federal funds and resources expended as part of EPA’s recent “unnecessary reconsideration” of the national ambient air quality standard for ground level ozone that “significantly impacts state and local transportation planning, energy production and use, and economic development.”

Those standards were never implemented. Obama stepped in and stopped the process, noting that the agency was asking state and local governments to implement new ozone standards that will soon be reconsidered yet again in a matter of months.

Lawmakers want to know how much agency money was invested in the aborted initiative.

“EPA’s reconsideration of the ozone standard in 2010-2011, years ahead of the regularly-scheduled review process established in the Clean Air Act, caused economic and regulatory uncertainty throughout the United States,” the letter said. “Private businesses and organizations as well as federal, state, and local agencies incurred significant expenses analyzing EPA’s proposal as well as participating in the public comment process.”

The request for information, the lawmakers said, “is neither overly complex nor burdensome.” The letter read they were only raising “a legitimate question about how taxpayer money has been spent by EPA, that EPA either seeks to thwart our oversight role in this matter or cannot answer the question. Either explanation is deeply troubling.”

The committee has “direct jurisdiction over EPA” and a responsibility to oversee agency actions, “including how it expends the resources made available to it by Congress.”

In another part of the year-end review, GOP lawmakers criticized Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, for failing to exercise “appropriate scrutiny” of unilateral actions taken by the administration in imposing the Climate Action Plan.

“Oversight of the president's CAP falls under the jurisdiction of this committee and is crucial, as it has every area of the federal government working towards its goal of justifying a carbon-constrained economy,” the report said. “Many of these sweeping new agency actions have not come under appropriate scrutiny by EPW.”

Boxer “repeatedly promised to have EPA officials appear before the committee to testify on the Obama Administration's policies. However, the July 18 hearing, the only climate-related hearing held by this committee this year, excluded any federal witnesses.”

Vitter and the other lawmakers also noted Boxer failed to hold a hearing this year on EPA’s budget proposal and the panel has ignored fraud and mismanagement within the agency.