September 28, 2017
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, spoke on the Senate floor last night about regulatory reform in Washington.
Sen. Inhofe remarks as prepared for delivery:
Mr. President, when I watch the news, I can’t help but see that the media is showing a Washington that isn’t completely accurate. The news would have the public believe that there is a lot of dysfunction in the Administration and that nothing is getting done, but I’d like to share some examples of a government working to get America back in business. In my former life, I was a business man - hiring people, spending money, growing the economy. However, the major problem I had was the obstruction of the federal government and that is one of the reasons I ran for office in the first place.
Some regulations and agency processes have a purpose and are important, but during the last Administration, new rules were created that seemed to have no purpose but to hinder economic growth. In fact, President Obama is the first president since Hoover to not hit three percent GDP growth in any year of his presidency. With every industry coming under scrutiny from every regulatory agency, Obama added more regulations to the federal register than any other president, and businesses are complying with regulations at a cost of $2 trillion.
In the first few months of this Congress, we have been able to reverse some of these job-killing, economy-strangling regulations by passing 14 Congressional Review Act resolutions. The savings from the repeal of these 14 regulations are estimated to be $3.7 billion in costs and 4.2 million hours of paperwork – the most expensive of which was repealed by the first CRA passed that I authored, which would have required oil and gas companies to disclose their “playbooks” on how to win deals, costing them $1.3 billion and putting them at a disadvantage with global competitors.
Furthermore, the President has signed 45 executive orders with the goal of reducing red-tape and cutting back on the duplicative and harmful administrative state. Thanks to our colleagues across the aisle for changing the Senate rules, because with their help, President Trump and a Republican-led Senate have been able to confirm one of the most conservative cabinets in history and have been working to implement the President’s pro-business, pro-jobs, pro-economic growth policies.
If you want to see the effect the election and this Administration is having, you only need to look to the energy industry.
Within weeks of taking office, the Army Corps of Engineers under the Trump Administration approved an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline that had been withheld by the Obama Administration for nothing more than political pressure from far-left environmental groups.
The next month, the State Department issued a cross-border permit for the Keystone pipeline – again, a permit that had been withheld purely because of political pressure for radical environmental groups. Later that same month, the Department of Interior lifted the coal-leasing ban Obama’s Administration had placed on federal land - with nearly 40 percent of coal production in the US happening on federal lands, the ban was a severe blow to the industry.
Another notable win for energy came just last week out of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC. FERC was without a quorum from February until mid-August, creating a backlog and delaying $50 billion of energy infrastructure projects from moving forward.
The new quorum has gotten to work to address that backlog, approving pipelines and power agreements. However, a decision made last week has clearly sent the message that the American energy sector is open for business.
For years, New York State had been delaying consideration of water certifications that are required for final FERC approval to allow construction of several federally-approved pipelines. The Millennium Pipeline in particular, would take natural gas nine miles from one pipeline to a natural gas-fired electric plant providing clean, cheap, natural gas power. New York State has delayed and denied this certification simply because the radical left does not want it.
Last week, FERC took the authority granted to them under the Clean Water Act to override New York State’s denial of a certification because New York waived their authority under law. Section 401 of the Clean Water Act says that if a State “refuses to act on a request for certification, within a reasonable period of time (which shall not exceed one year) after receipt of such request, the certification requirements…shall be waived with respect to such Federal application.”
With environmentalists increasingly urging states like New York, New Jersey, and Virginia to block pipelines by delaying and withholding otherwise valid certifications, these states are interfering with interstate commerce—a role that is wholly within the purview of the federal government.
I applaud the new Administration and independent agencies for taking a stand against the gamesmanship of radical left environmentalists and those who do their bidding by using loopholes and their official authority to block valid, compliant energy projects that safely transport cheaper, cleaner energy across state lines.
With a government that works with industry, not against them, we are starting to see companies unleash investments across the economy. In fact, the economy has picked up since Trump and his Administration have come into office with the economy growing 3 percent in the 2nd quarter – the first full quarter under the new Administration and the “fastest pace of growth in two years,” according to CNN Money. With each nomination, confirmation and policy directive, President Trump and the Republican-led Congress are signaling to the business community and American workers that America is open for business again.
I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to address our energy industry needs so that billions in private investment can be utilized to deliver American products to American consumers around the world. Last week, I introduced a bill to address known bottleneck issues within the FERC permitting process that add unnecessary delays by identifying participating agencies early in the process, provide for concurrent reviews, and provide transparency on where a permit is in the process.
I’d like to thank Senator King and his staff for working with me and my staff on this legislation and I hope my colleagues will join us in getting these reforms into law. By incentivizing and utilizing private capital, we can spur continued economic growth without increasing federal spending.