Washington, D.C. – The Environment Subcommittee today held a hearing to examine the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Regional Haze Program, including its scientific underpinnings and controversial implementation. Witnesses discussed the impact and costs of these regulations on various stakeholders, including individual states.
Congress intended the Regional Haze Rule to be a state-led initiative since it is an aesthetic regulation. In addition, the intent of the Regional Haze Rule was to encourage and promote state and federal agencies to work together to improve visibility inside national parks and wilderness areas. However, EPA has recently imposed 14 Regional Haze Federal Implementation Plans (FIPs) with two more in the process to be finalized.
Environment Subcommittee Chairman Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.): “Unlike the other regulations promulgated under the Clean Air Act that this committee has examined, the Regional Haze rule is unique for two important reasons. First, it is an aesthetic regulation, and NOT a public health regulation. These rules were designed primarily to ensure the public can clearly see the sights at National Parks and other natural landmarks. Second, Clean Air Act legislative history specifically gives individual States a unique degree of authority to be decision makers when implementing visibility-improving policies. These federal plans will have huge implementation costs, hurting consumers, those on fixed incomes, and small businesses. It will force coal-fired power plants to shut down and make electricity generation more expensive. This is yet another example of the Federal Government bullying my constituents.”
EPA rejected Texas’s Regional Haze state implementation plan and recently imposed a Regional Haze FIP on the state. On March 18 2016, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton requested a stay of this Texas FIP in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The stay would prevent the EPA from imposing its FIP until it is decided in the courts.
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “We cannot allow a federal agency to assume power that Congress has not given it. Contrary to the EPA’s agenda, Americans want to be free from overly burdensome regulations, not tied up in more. In my home state of Texas, the EPA’s regional haze imposition would affect 14 power plans and cost more than $2 billion. This past Friday, the Attorney General of Texas requested a stay of this plan. EPA’s regulatory agenda is bad for the American economy and for the American people.”
The following witnesses testified today:
Mr. William Yeatman, Senior Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute
Mr. Thomas P. Schroedter, Executive Director and General Counsel, Oklahoma Industrial Energy Consumers
Mr. Bruce Polkowsky, Environmental Policy Consultant
Mr. Aaron M. Flynn, Partner, Hunton & Williams
For more information on the hearing, including witness testimony and the archived webcast, please visit the Committee’s website.