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November 13, 2014

Inhofe Opening Statement at EPW Nomination Hearing for Virginia Lodge, Ronald Walter

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today submitted for the record the following statement for a full EPW committee hearing to consider the nominations of Virginia T. Lodge and Ronald A. Walter to be Members of the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority:

As prepared for delivery:

Ms. Lodge and Mr. Walter, thank you for being here today.

The Tennessee Valley Authority is a unique component of government.  It has a long, 80-some year history of providing electricity to the good folks in Tennessee and some of the surrounding states.

Because of this, I know that you are being affected by the relentless onslaught of rules against the utility industry by the President's EPA.

It started with Utility MACT a few years ago; then came the 316(b) Water Rule this past year.  Now climate change regulations are on the drawing board and a reduction in the ozone standard is in the works.

All of these regulations carry an enormous price tag: Utility MACT is estimated to cost about $100 billion to implement, and one recent study by NERA Economic Consulting estimated the climate change regulations for existing sources will cost between $350 billion and $500 billion to implement.

From an economic standpoint, these rules translate into millions of lost jobs across the economy, and they are coming at a time when Americans are increasingly wary of our economy’s health.  It’s the number one political issue.

The American people do not want more environmental regulations that increase energy costs and threaten job creation.  In fact, Americans have consistently put environmental issues at the bottom of their priority list.  Gallup’s most recent poll, from just before the elections, had climate change listed as the very lowest priority among voters.  This makes sense.

The impact of these rules on the consumer cost and the reliability of our electric system are two of the key things that TVA needs to evaluate on these rules.  Just last week the North American Electric Reliability Corporation issued an alarming report that the EPA’s existing power plant rule may have a negative impact on electricity reliability.  TVA needs to evaluate how its specific region will be affected so that the people who live there know how EPA’s policies are going to affect them.  This is especially true given your exposure to nuclear, which EPA claims its rules will help while industry assures us they will not.

I know many people believe that the bulk of the costs imposed by the new climate change rules are going to be offset by efficiency improvements and savings generated from relying more heavily on natural gas.  But efficiencies that save money don’t need to be mandated, and we need look no further than our friends at the Sierra Club to understand the direction the EPA is headed on natural gas.

Michael Brune, the group’s Executive Director, recently said that “Natural gas is a dirty fossil fuel.  It’s not a bridge.  It’s a gangplank.  There’s no way to build an economy fueled by clean energy that includes natural gas.”

The great work this Committee has done over the years revealing the deep collusion that goes on between environmental groups and the EPA should confirm to us that the Agency’s next move will be on the route of squeezing natural gas out of the energy mix.

EPA is underestimating the true impacts of its environmental rules to convince the American people that they aren’t as bad or extreme as they really are.

We know better.  The vision of our country under aggressive environmental policies like the ones being crafted by EPA is a gloomy one, and the questions of reliability and economic impact need to be fully evaluated and deeply understood by this Committee and the Congress.  This is what I plan to focus on in the coming months, and I look forward to better understanding how these things will affect TVA and its customers. 



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