Statement of Senator Mike Enzi
On S.J. Res 26,
A Resolution Disapproving of the
EPA’s Endangerment Finding
June 10, 2010
Mr. President. I rise in support of Senator Murkowski’s resolution that would ensure that Congress keeps its responsibility to establish our nation’s environmental regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency’s move to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act is an economic and bureaucratic nightmare in the making that is going to have a devastating effect on our economy and put a regulatory stranglehold on businesses and individuals across the country.
The Congressional Review Act was passed in 1996 to make sure that Congress could step in when federal agencies got off track. It was a bipartisan bill, because senators and representatives recognized that we should not hand off our responsibility for setting policy to federal agencies, and so that when federal agencies get off track, we have a way to bring them back to reality. We need to bring the EPA back to reality on the catastrophe that regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act would create, because if we don’t, it will be consumers and businesses – both small businesses and big businesses, in every sector of our economy – that will end up paying more than they can afford for those regulations.
The consequences of allowing the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act are tremendous. The EPA’s rule that will go into effect if Senator Murkowski’s resolution is not adopted won’t just apply to big power plants or industrial factories. More than six million businesses and residences will come under these new regulations at a cost of billions of dollars to our economy. The EPA is going to regulate small businesses and family farms, and those that can’t afford to comply will go to out of business. They will regulate office buildings and warehouses, and if you rent space in an office building or store your inventory in a warehouse, your costs will rise. Grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, residential buildings, and even individual homes will face complicated and expensive regulations.
And, it is not just members on my side of the aisle who believe the EPA is taking a disastrous approach. The White House and members of the president’s party have said that EPA’s move to impose “command and control” regulation on greenhouse gases would be a step in the wrong direction.
Where would the regulation stop? No one knows for sure. Cattle produce a lot of carbon dioxide and methane, so it is hard to imagine how the agricultural industry would not be impacted. What about people? In a big city people are breathing out carbon dioxide all day long. Could that be subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act? Could breathing become a fineable violation – or would there be a new tax as breathing is not an option? There will be many unintended consequences if EPA is allowed to move forward, and we have a chance to stop that from happening today by supporting Senator Murkowski’s resolution disapproving the EPA’s action.
Our economy has lost eight million jobs over the past two years and unemployment is still almost ten percent. Businesses that had to lay people off are still hurting. The last thing our economy needs and the last thing businesses can afford is an EPA chokehold. According to the EPA, the average cost of compliance for stationary sources that will be regulated is more than $125,000. That is an average cost- some will be less- just as many will be more than $125,000. But that’s just an average. That’s $125,000 that will not be used to hire new employees. It is $125,000 that will not be spent on business expansion. Right now, with our economy struggling, we need to be working to encourage businesses to hire more employees and to grow, but unless stop the EPA’s overreach, businesses across the country will be facing the harshest and most expensive regulations they have ever seen.
Some people have suggested that the EPA’s decision to move forward with greenhouse gas regulations will pressure Congress into implementing a cap-and-tax proposal. They say, “we don’t want EPA to regulate, but we’ve got to keep pressure on Congress or Congress won’t act.” I don’t buy that argument because as the old saying goes, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” Senators are faced with a choice. If it is wrong for the EPA to regulate, they should stop it from happening, and supporting Senator Murkowski’s resolution is the clearest way to do it.
My colleagues who oppose this resolution are voting in favor of the EPA action. They are voting to allow the EPA to set up complex regulations that will strangle our economy, kill any economic recovery we have seen, and further squeeze consumers and businesses across the country. It is the start of a slippery slope. How much control will the EPA reach for after this if it isn’t stopped now?
The Clean Air Act is not the EPA’s regulatory Swiss Army knife. Even EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said that the Clean Air Act was not written to apply to greenhouse gases. ‘Greenhouse gas’ is not one of the six categories of pollutants that the Clean Air Act covers and the list of 188 specific pollutants that are regulated under the Clean Air Act does not include carbon dioxide or methane. Even if Congress did decide that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases should be regulated, the Clean Air Act would be the wrong tool for the job. Greenhouse gases come from large and small sources, from major manufacturers and industrial plants and from community hospitals and small-town businesses. And yes, they come from animals, and yes, from people breathing in and out. Applying the Clean Air Act across the board to sources that emit a small amount of carbon dioxide – as the law requires – would be clumsy and harmful, and ultimately do tremendous economic harm to America’s businesses and consumers.
The Congressional Review Act was passed so that Congress could step in and prevent federal agencies like the EPA from implementing rules or regulations that don’t make sense. I hope my colleagues will recognize the tremendous harm that allowing the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act would do to our economy. While there are many disagreements about climate change legislation, we should all be able to recognize that the course the EPA is on now is the worst of all worlds. Their approach would stymie our chances of recovering from the recession and stifle economic development for businesses and consumers who are already struggling to make ends meet.
Is there no end to the administration’s approach of believing that any situation can be saved with more red tape, more regulations, and more fines? Is there any end to the power grabs of this administration, which has thrown every obstacle it can think of in the path of our small businesses? Supporting the Murkowski resolution would check the EPA and give our small businesses that make up the most important part of our economy a fighting chance.
This is the last chance to stop the EPA’s carbon overreach and the slippery slope that will ensue if we allow them to move forward with these harmful regulations. Please vote yes motion to proceed and yes for the resolution of disapproval.