April 28, 2021
Today, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, questioned Michael Regan, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), at an EPW hearing on the Fiscal Year 2022 Proposed Budget for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Inhofe: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Regan, confession is good for the soul. I confess that I came from the House to the Senate in 1994, and during that time, I can’t think of any person that has possessed a position like yours that I have been more fond of but had to vote against than you. The reason for that was, I look at all these things that they are attempting to do, this Administration, job killing. I have a hard time figuring out why we are doing what we are doing. Why would we be encumbered with regulations that will put people out of business, cause industries to leave the United States, and yet, the largest polluter is China? I mean, China right now, is building coal-fired power plants at a rate outpacing the rest of the world combined. In 2020, China brought more than three times what was brought online elsewhere, and last year, China generated 53 percent of the world’s coal-fired power plants, we generated 19 percent. I guess I will start off with, how do you justify that?
Regan: Well, Senator, thank you for your question.
Inhofe: Are you sure?
Regan: Well, I know it is on your mind and on the mind of others. I think what we saw last week, the president rallying the world to address this issue, and China was at the table. I think that with the American Jobs Plan, the direction we are headed, is not solely an opportunity just to mitigate against climate impact, but it is an awesome opportunity for us to lead in technological advancement and create jobs. We know that the markets are trending directionally this way. I believe that is why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and organizations like the Petroleum Institute are on board with looking at regulations that pursue deep cuts in methane. The reality is with CCS, with methane technologies and others, America is poised to cut deeply these greenhouse gases, but also, deploy these technologies internationally. So, we have an awesome opportunity to grab onto this and not only create jobs domestically and ride the wave of where the market is going but export these technologies as well to get these deep emission reductions we need to get.
Inhofe: Under this agreement, and this is kind of reliving what has happened in the past, China gets the free ride. China can continue their growth for 15 years, and then you have India. India, I assume, I haven’t heard anything recently since this has reemerged. In the initial Paris Accord, India was demanding billions and billions of dollars. I was looking for that figure, and I can’t find it now. But anyway, they join in. Why not? I can understand that. In the case of China, I would say that the greatest threat we have with China is that we have to comply. Have you done any kind of study on what EPA regulations will be needed to meet President Biden’s new Paris climate commitment? He has made a commitment – what we are going to do in the United States. What is going to be the cost of that commitment?
Regan: Well, I think the studies that we have done, and what we are actually doing in terms of meeting that commitment is that we are in constant communication, right now, with the automobile industry and the unions. We are engaging with many fossil fuel companies. I was on a call with EEI membership just two weeks ago and CEOs from the power plant sector, discussing exactly what we need to do to structure a process where we deploy the right technologies, keep these jobs in America and get the jump on reducing greenhouse gases and methane.
Inhofe: But, you know, Mr. Regan, since they have to meet these requirements, have we analyzed to see what the cost is going to be that would be incurred by industries here in the United States? Now those industries, some of them, might take the position well, we can go to China. We can make more money if you go to China. Now, that is the concern that is out there. Let me ask in a different way. Last week, I introduced legislation that would ensure that China is held to the same emissions reduction commitment as the United States. Now, isn’t that common sense?
Regan: You know, Senator. I just see America as a leader. The president’s Jobs Plan isn’t really following China, it’s really looking at where the markets are driving and how we really harness the technological advances that we are seeing. We are talking about CCS, we are talking about deep methane cuts, we are looking at electric vehicles and talking with an automobile industry that believes that we can get there in a time frame where we can have all of those jobs homegrown. I think this is a huge opportunity. The president thinks this is a huge opportunity for a government-wide approach to look at how we leverage resources to build American jobs, leverage technology in the market, and by the way, get some really deep emission reduction from methane and CO2.
Inhofe: Have you done anything to determine what EPA regulations are going to be needed to meet the requirements?
Regan: What we are doing now is we have provided sort of a range of how we think we play in the NDC number, and as we develop our regulations, we will do a cost-benefit analysis. We will look at the cost of technologies. To answer your question directly, as we look at these regulations, there will be a number of technologies, timelines that pass that we will be discussing with those that are regulating, and it will be that combination of things that will ultimately yield the regulation that determines that final number. It’s a work in process.
Inhofe: Well, it’s a work in process, but you don’t know. I don’t think there is any way you could know, at this point, what it’s going to cost to comply with those regulations. There are going to have to do things that is going to be more expensive to operate. I think we all understand that. My concern is that China will not have to do that. There are many industries in the United States that would actually benefit from more regulations in the United States because all they have to do is more to China, and there won’t be any regulations.
Carper: Sen. Inhofe, I hate to do this, but you are about three minutes over.
Inhofe: Yea, I know.
Carper: I am going to ask you to hold it there. If you have some further questions, we may have some time at the end.
Inhofe: The reason I went over a little bit, Mr. Chairman, is that I can’t stay for longer, and I wanted to make sure I got the point across. Some things could happen to actually benefit some of our industries, encouraging them to leave and go to China and actually perform better. We are the big loser here in the United States. I’ve run companies; I did that for a living before I got here.
Thank you very much.