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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

ICYMI: EPW Hearing Highlights how EPA Regulations are "Shutting down the backbone of our electricity system"

During an EPW hearing today entitled, "Nuclear Reactor Decommission Stakeholders Views,” Sen. Jim Inhofe drove home the point that our nation’s electricity is at risk of blackouts and brownouts due to the Obama Administration's misguided regulations. Committee witness Marvin Fertel, president and chief executive officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute, responded to Inhofe's concerns by stating that EPA regulations are shutting down coal plants and putting nuclear plants in jeopardy, thereby "shutting down the backbone of our electricity system." 

Fertel also stressed that the volume of burdensome federal regulations being developed is diverting attention and resources away from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s and industry's important responsibility to comply with safety requirements.  

 EPW Hearing

Click here to watch the video


INHOFE: One thing that hasn’t been talked about by any of the witnesses and with any of the questions up here, is the issue of reliability and dependability. Now we have a lot of sources and I think it is important that you address this because it is my understanding, if you can look at what can happen to a source of energy in this country- the most reliable would be nuclear. The lease reliable would be some of the renewables, like wind for example. You could develop a level of dependency and all the sudden the wind stops- and what do you do? I would like to have you address the significance of the reliability and dependability issue that we should be dealing with now. 

FERTEL: Probably the easiest way to talk about that is to think back to the Polar Vortex that we had this winter. And we had a real problem in getting electricity and gas, particularly to New England- because of infrastructure issues and because of a shortage. 

Nuclear Plants really have fuel onsite all the time because it is in the core. We don’t emit any emissions of any green house gases or any other criteria pollutants for that matter. Sen. Sanders mentioned the good local economic impact that a nuclear plant has. We also provide stability to the grid from the standpoint of voltage stability. So from a reliability standpoint, we see nuclear as a backbone of really our electricity infrastructure and right now in a number of markets that is not at all recognized and we’re hoping that more and more it will get recognized.  

INHOFE: …I want to make sure we’re focused on this because we have heard a lot of prediction about what could happen in terms of this summer and the following summer if we were to have blackouts or brownouts in this country and that would be pretty disastrous. Are you familiar with some of those statements that have been made?

FERTEL: Yes, I am. They’re coming from people that actually look at that very hard, and not only just the industry side but the policy side and its because we are shutting down a lot of coal plants because of the EPA regulations. We have a number of nuclear plants in jeopardy because of policies that are making them uneconomic even though they are very economic plants. And again, if you shutdown coal and nuclear plants you are shutting down the backbone of our electricity system. 

INHOFE: And I think that really needs to be talked about before the disaster occurs.  


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

ICYMI: Editorial: Work on I-44 almost finished; Hooray

By World’s Editorials Writers, Published April 21, 2014

Tulsa World

Click here to read article

The long-awaited completion of the Interstate 44 widening is almost finished.

That "almost" is some of the best news travelers of the key Tulsa corridor and the surrounding neighborhoods and businesses have heard in more than six years.

The $400 million widening project is due to be completed some time this summer. In addition to the important widening to six lanes, the project includes a huge drainage project, new exit and entrance ramps, improvements at major intersections and a much-needed new bridge at Lewis Avenue.

The I-44 improvements will benefit the city for a generation, meaning the long construction project was difficult, but worthwhile.

Last week, Gov. Mary Fallin, Sen. Jim Inhofe and other dignitaries gathered at the Lewis location to mark the progress and say that the end is in sight.

Portions of the project are done, and the roadway is open. Drivers report the new interstate is fantastic, worth the wait.

Make no mistake, Inhofe was the key player in this project. His senior place on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works allowed him to secure the funding for the I-44 work.

Inhofe, who has been instrumental in other highway projects in the state, realized the need for the I-44 update and made it happen. Our community owes him sincere thanks.

Tulsans along the corridor have endured inconvenience and some hardship throughout the work.

Now, it's almost over. Sweeter words were never spoken.



Wednesday, April 30, 2014

ICYMI: "I will agree; EPA is delaying [regulations] and playing politics"


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This morning a FOX News panel discussed an investigation U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe launched Monday into the EPA once again playing politics by delaying a climate change regulation that could dramatically impact the reliability and affordability of our electricity grid. Liberal pundit Alan Colmes agreed: “EPA is delaying [regulations] and playing politics.”


U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, ranking member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Oversight, sent a letter Monday to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy seeking answers for the discrepancy in her January 16 on-the-record statement that the EPA submitted the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) rule for power plants to the Federal Register office “as soon as that proposal was released” to the public on Sept. 20. Newly released written correspondence between Inhofe and the Federal Register’s office show that the EPA in fact did not submit the rule until Nov. 25, a full 66 days later, giving EPA the ability to not finalize the rule until after the 2014 elections.

EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia admitted later on Monday to POLITICO that EPA in fact held the NSPS rule until Nov. 25. Purchia gave partial blame to the government shut down last October and also called the 66-day delay a “normal part of the rulemaking process, and the time needed for these procedures varies for each rule.” 

Erica Martinson of POLITICO pointed out that of the five major EPA regulations issued from 2008 to 2012 that Inhofe asked the Federal Register’s office about, “four of the five regulations – involving ozone, greenhouse gases, pollution standards for boilers and power plants and the previous version of EPA’s proposed rule to limit power plants’ carbon emissions – were released to the public no more than five days before they were sent to the Federal Register for publication. EPA’s mercury and air toxics standards for power plants was released on Dec. 21 and not sent for publication until Jan. 12, a calendar-day gap.”

Inhofe responded saying that EPA’s excuse only exempts the agency from roughly one-third of the delay time. Inhofe told the Free Beacon, “If the EPA had followed this same protocol, the [New Source Performance Standards] rule would have been submitted to the Federal Register’s office two full working days before the shutdown,” Inhofe added. “Adm. Gina McCarthy misinformed the Environment and Public Works Committee about when this rule was submitted, and I expect her to respond to my letter explaining why this happen and who is responsible.”

This is not the first instance where Inhofe has uncovered the EPA delaying regulations for political purposes. In 2012, Inhofe released a report on EPA regulations President Obama would hold until after the presidential election. On Dec. 4, 2013, the Washington Post ran a story entitled, "White House delayed enacting rules ahead of 2012 election to avoid controversy.

The article reported:

“Some agency officials were instructed to hold off submitting proposals to the White House for up to a year to ensure that they would not be issued before voters went to the polls, the current and former officials said…

“Several significant EPA proposals were withheld as a result of those meetings, officials said, including a proposal requiring cleaner gasoline and lower-pollution vehicles that had won the support of automakers but angered the oil industry.

“That regulation, which would reduce the amount of sulfur in U.S. gasoline by two-thirds and impose fleet wide pollution limits on new vehicles by 2017, was ready in December 2011, said three officials familiar with the proposal. But agency officials were told to wait a year to submit it for review because critics could use it to suggest that the administration was raising gas prices, they said. The EPA issued the proposed rule in March.

“Other EPA regulations that were delayed beyond the 2012 election included rules on coal ash disposal, water pollution rules for streams and wetlands, air emissions from industrial boilers and cement kilns, and carbon dioxide limits for existing power plants.”



Tuesday, April 29, 2014

ICYMI: Inhofe’s Speech on the Keystone XL Pipeline

“Since then, he has done nothing to make good on his word”

-Sen. Inhofe regarding the current progress of the Keystone XL Pipeline

Inhofe Speech Keystone

Click here to watch the video

As prepared for delivery: 

[Chart 1 – Obama in Oklahoma] It was just over two years ago that President Obama came to Cushing, Oklahoma, gave a speech on national TV with all of the pipeline tubes in the background, and told the American people that he would “cut through the red tape, break through bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done.”

Since then, he has done nothing to make good on his word. 

The Southern leg of the pipeline may be finished, but that was the part of the project the President didn’t have any say in.  It was a separate project that did not require presidential approval because it did not cross an international border.

The portion between Canada and Cushing, however, is completely stalled because the President has delayed making a decision for five years.

To me, the Keystone Pipeline is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the way President Obama thinks about the oil and natural gas industry. 

Today we’ve heard great speeches from many of my colleagues, and they’ve highlighted the great impact the Keystone Pipeline’s construction would have on the economy.  We know it would directly create 42,000 jobs, and tens of thousands more would be supported by all of the manufacturing materials and processes that are required to complete this project.

But the real impact of the President’s failure to act on Keystone can be seen on this second chart [Chart 2 – US Energy Resources].  Here we can see all of the U.S. energy resources that are currently available for us to go after.

Midstream infrastructure – and pipelines in particular – are one of the most important things we need to fully developing these resources.  We need to be able to move the oil and gas from areas where it’s being developed to areas where it is refined, processed, and consumed.

And the need for infrastructure expansion is astounding.  ICF International, a consulting firm, released a report last month that said that U.S. companies will need to invest $641 billion over the next twenty years in infrastructure to keep up with growing oil and gas production.

What does this mean for jobs?  According to the analysis, the spending on these new pipelines alone will create 432,000 direct jobs, and that’s based on a conservative estimate that does not assume we develop all of the resources in our country.  If it included that, it would likely be far higher.

The increase in oil and gas production we’ve seen in recent years has occurred solely on state and private lands.  There are many things President Obama could do to make these numbers far higher, including making available the 60% of federal lands that are currently off limits to oil and gas development.  If we developed these lands for energy exploration and development it would generate $14.4 trillion in GDP and another 2.5 million jobs.

But the President has done nothing to encourage this development, nor has he done anything to encourage the development of more pipeline infrastructure.

In fact, the President’s efforts have been intently focused on hurting the production of oil and gas resources – be it through stall tactics or efforts to establish confusing, complex, and confusing regulations on the hydraulic fracturing process.  Every way we turn, we see President Obama trying to put the oil and gas industry out of business.

The Keystone XL Pipeline is the bellwether of energy policy today.  It’s such a simple decision, but the President has wavered year after year.  This posture should give the American people every bit of information they need about what the President really thinks about North America becoming energy independent and economically secure.  He simply doesn’t want it to happen.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thank You: Senator Made Fly-In a Success

lawton constitution

WASHINGTON — Many big thank yous to U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and his staff for their work to make the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce’s annual D.C. Fly-in a huge success.

Sen. Inhofe spent many hours with members of the delegation and arranged sessions that allowed the group to become more knowledgeable and aware of the challenges that face our country and the U.S. Army.

Inhofe, as many of the speakers told the group, is the No. 1 “go to” man for the Army and military in the Senate. “You are so fortunate to have Jim Inhofe,” several speakers said. Inhofe’s relationship undoubtedly keeps Fort Sill as one of the top posts in the Army and supports Oklahoma and our local economy.

The new Freedom School being built for on-post, military children at Fort Sill is a perfect example of the Tulsa Republican getting things done. His working with the Democrats in the Senate and former Under Secretary of the Army Joe Westphal enabled the project to be built despite his criticism of the Obama administration.

Sen. Inhofe also reached across the aisle and nominated former 2nd District Congressman Brad R. Carson, a Democrat and an opponent in a recent election, to be the 20th General Counsel of the Department of the Army. Why? He wanted an Oklahoman in that position, and the former Naval officer was eminently qualified. Carson has since been named to replace Westphal as Under Secretary of the Army.

“Jim Inhofe gets things done because he works hard,” retiring Sen. Tom Coburn, M.D., told the Lawton group. How true.

A passionate advocate for national defense, Inhofe has made many trips to Lawton and all the military facilities in Oklahoma. Inhofe also has made many trips to visit Iraq and Afghanistan and other hot spots, checking the execution of the military strategy and visiting with soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines from Oklahoma and other states about their duty and the need for equipment to complete their missions.

His staff members assisted chamber officials to work out kinks in scheduling and meeting room arrangements and securing guests for functions at the Capitol that made the sessions. Make no mistake, it was Jim Inhofe’s relations with the Army and a long-time personal relationship that brought Secretary of the Army John McHugh and other top brass to the evening reception and/or the early morning breakfast.

Many thanks are in order to the senator’s staff for arranging meetings in the Pentagon with top Army leaders and to the media staff for assisting a dozen members of the group to get to the hearing about the future of the Army.

Now, Lawton leaders will be examining the data and looking for ways to assist the Army meet mission requirements while looking for new opportunities to assist them. Lawton stands ready to help.

Many thanks are also in order for Lawton taxpayers who went to the polls last week and approved two crucial bond issues. The proceeds will be spent for maintenance, equipment and buses. That vote tally sure set a positive atmosphere with Army and congressional officials in the nation’s capital. Thank you Lawton voters.