Tulsa World: U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt: Senate Bill 676 protects Oklahoma businesses, families from EPA’s overreach

By:  Sen. Jim Inhofe and Attorney General Scott Pruitt
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As two of the most ardent critics of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, we are pleased Oklahoma is taking a leading role at the state and federal level in challenging the administration’s attempt to use EPA regulations to set forth a national energy plan. For years, state environmental regulators worked to improve the state’s air quality and protect the health of local citizens. Despite long-standing success, the Obama administration is attempting to commandeer the role of state environmental regulators, taking it a step further to dictate what type of power can be used to power Oklahoman’s homes and businesses.

The EPA doesn’t have the authority under the Clean Air Act to impose this rule. Under the act, states are to submit a plan for emissions reductions, and EPA retains the authority to enforce those plans. State governments are then left with two options: submit no plan or submit a plan that would surrender sovereign powers of a state over its electricity markets to federal bureaucrats.

At the federal level, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has held two hearings in the 114th Congress with witnesses from EPA as well as state regulators. The committee will continue to hold these oversight hearings to highlight the problems with the Obama administration’s plan while Congress works toward effective legislative solutions to limit and roll back EPA’s proposals.

At the state level, the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office is leading a bipartisan group of states in a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s authority to issue the unlawful rule. Our goal in challenging the EPA is to protect the role granted to state policy makers under the Clean Air Act to make decisions on what type of fuel can be used to generate electricity.

The Obama administration refuses to acknowledge questions about this proposed rule and despite the threat of a legal challenge, EPA continues moving forward with finalizing the rule.

We are encouraged Oklahoma policy makers are lending their voices to the chorus of those who oppose the Obama administration’s overreach. Gov. Mary Fallin and other governors sent a letter to the president expressing concern about the rule’s failure to strike a balance in the partnership between the states and the federal government. The Oklahoma Legislature also is considering a proactive approach to protect our state from federal environmental mandates that are outside the scope of the Clean Air Act.

Senate Bill 676 authored by Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, would allow for legislative oversight of carbon dioxide emissions plans submitted to EPA to ensure the plan in fact complies with the Clean Air Act. This common-sense bill will ensure any decisions about Oklahoma’s energy future will ultimately be held in the hands of our elected officials, not federal bureaucrats.

No state should comply with this rule if it will mean surrendering decision-making authority to the EPA, a power that has not been granted to the agency. States should be left to make decisions on the fuel diversity that best meets their electric generation needs. We will continue to fight for these issues in the U.S. Senate and in the federal courts.

We applaud Sen. Treat and his colleagues in the Oklahoma state Senate for passing SB 676. We encourage members of the Oklahoma House to join us in supporting this common-sense bill that will protect families and business and ensure Oklahoma maintains access to affordable and reliable power.

Jim Inhofe, a Republican, is Oklahoma’s senior U.S. Senator. Scott Pruitt, a Republican, is the Oklahoma attorney general.