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April 20, 2016

Tulsa World: Inhofe: Obama EPA budget shows misplaced climate change priorities

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., delivered the following opening statement Tuesday at a hearing to examine the president’s fiscal year 2017 budget request for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

As prepared for delivery to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy:

Administrator McCarthy, thank you for appearing this morning.

The President has requested almost $8.3 billion to fund EPA next fiscal year – an increase of more than $87 million from last year’s enacted.

I would like to address what I believe are misplaced priorities and how the President is sacrificing EPA’s core programs to advance his climate legacy.

The President is seeking more than $50 million just to implement the Clean Power Plan – even though EPA has even testified before this committee they have done no modeling whether the rule would have any impact on global temperature change, and the Supreme Court has stayed it from going into effect because of ongoing litigation which could well last into 2018.

The President is intent on picking winners and losers in the energy economy. The budget request makes clear the President’s intention to now squeeze the oil and gas sector through costly new regulations and increased inspections and enforcement, much like it did with coal mines and power plants at the beginning of the Administration.

Another example of this is how the budget request seeks $300 million in mandatory funding (or more than $1.6 billion over 10 years) to pay for charging stations for electric vehicles and other subsidies to remake our transportation infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the President again proposes cutting $40 million from the very successful diesel emission retrofit program that Senator Carper and I support. The budget would also eliminate state grants to address radon, even though radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.

In a hearing earlier this month, we heard testimony about the challenges faced by states and local governments in meeting EPA clean water mandates. But the President’s budget would cut $414 million from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund which helps these very same states and local communities pay for improvements to sewer and waste water treatment systems.

Regardless of what one thinks about the President’s policy goals, here are a few objective results:

• The Supreme Court has stayed the Clean Power Plan – the centerpiece of the President’s climate legacy – over questions that EPA exceeded the limits of its authority under the Clean Air Act.

• A headline in the New York Times and report by GAO about how EPA violated the law by using tax-payer money for covert propaganda and illegal lobbying to support the Waters of the U.S. rule.

• Injunctions were issued to halt the WOTUS rule itself by the Sixth Circuit and a federal district court in North Dakota.

• Last year’s Supreme Court decision remanding a rule to limit mercury emissions from power plants because EPA ignored costs.

As we have seen from the Gold King Mine blowout and the contaminated drinking water in Flint, EPA has at times been distracted from fulfilling its core missions due to the Obama Administration’s single-minded focus on remaking EPA into an agency that regulates climate change and the energy sector.

The job of EPA Administrator comes with a high level of scrutiny from Congress and the American people as you know better than all of us. We may not see eye to eye on everything. But I appreciate the support you and your staff have provided for some of the Committee’s work especially to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act. As you know the Senate passed by voice vote last December a TSCA reform bill named after our colleague Frank Lautenberg, and I thank you and your staff for your continued help in moving that bill forward.

The members of this Committee and I are looking forward to asking you about EPA’s priorities and regulatory agenda.

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