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July 23, 2014

Inhofe Opening Statement at EPW Hearing on EPA’s Proposed Existing Power Plant Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) committee, today delivered the following opening statement at an EPW hearing entitled “Oversight Hearing: EPA’s Proposed Carbon Pollution Standards for Existing Power Plants.” The hearing witness was Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Adm. Gina McCarthy.

As prepared for delivery:

Administrator McCarthy, thank you for taking the time to be here today.

There are so many problems with EPA’s existing source carbon rule that it’s hard to know where to begin.  First there’s the issue of the impossible efficiency requirements the rule places on the power plants.  Then there’s the question of what should happen with stranded, MATS-compliant coal plants and how they’re supposed to achieve reductions without going belly up.

Then there’s bigger questions like how EPA plans to enforce this rule, and to what extent the agency will be allowed to tweak a state’s plan if it is not making the progress that needs to be made during the decade-long compliance period. 

These are very complex questions, and there are hundreds more.  Many smart people have been reading this rule for the last two months, and they are at a loss for what this will actually look like. 

In other words, it appears that EPA is urging the nation to “trust them” as they plot the takeover of the entire electricity market in the black-box confines of the comment period.  That said, there are a few things that are crystal clear.

First, we know that this rule will cause electricity prices to go up.  We know this from EPA’s own logic.  EPA’s rule sets out to save the 6% of nuclear generators that have become economically marginal. 

How will EPA do this?  By increasing electricity prices.  In the absence of regulatory relief from NRC and EPA (which is not happening) the only way to keep a marginal nuclear plant in business is for it to be paid more for its power.  And the only way EPA can do that is by using its policies to push prices up.

The second thing we know is that this rule will end with the United States looking like Germany, where the poor and the business community alike are reeling under high electricity prices, which are three times higher than they are here.

And this is something the Administration is doing even though the American people do not care about global warming.  We know this because a recent Gallup poll showed that Americans rank climate change as the 14th most important national issue out of 15, and according to the Pew Research Center, 53% of Americans, when asked about the cause of global warming, either don’t believe there is enough evidence to blame man or believe it is caused by natural variation.

This may explain why it has been difficult for Tom Steyer to raise the full $100 million he promised to help Democrats this fall.  He put in $50 million of his own money but pledged to raise the rest.  According to last week’s Politico article, Steyer has only been able to secure $1.2 million from outside donors so far.

The third thing we know is that this rule will have essentially no impact on global temperatures, which is very important because that is ultimately what this rule is supposed to do.

And according to one analysis, which used a model developed in part by EPA, the ESPS rule will reduce global temperatures by only 0.02 degrees Celsius.

Combine this with the fact that Australia last week repealed their carbon tax and Russia and China will never harm their economies for the sake of global warming, and the President has a big problem on his hands going into the Paris treaty discussions next year.  He is alone.  There is no political will – here or abroad – to implement global policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Altogether, this means that the President’s global warming regulations will not actually do anything, even though they will cost our economy tens of billions of dollars and result in hundreds of thousands of job losses.

This rule is a definitive step in the Administration’s War on Fossil fuels, and we know that they will stop at nothing to eliminate all fossil fuels from the American economy.  We need to remember that it’s the same Sierra Club that launched both the Beyond Natural Gas and the Beyond Coal Campaigns.  Allowing this rule to move forward would provide these groups and the EPA with the foothold they need to continue tightening energy policy so that all fossil fuels are put out of business.  This would bankrupt our economy and destroy millions of jobs.  We cannot allow this to happen.



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