WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, delivered the following opening statement today at a hearing entitled, Implications of the Supreme Court Stay of the Clean Power Plan.
As Prepared for Delivery:
We are here today to talk about the status of the Clean Power Plan in the wake of a historic decision from the Supreme Court of the United States to stay the rule.
The stakes are high when it comes to the Power Plan. An agency charged with protecting human health and the environment is attempting to restructure the entire energy system on imagined legal authority in a manner that will cost billions of dollars, is based on unreasonable assumptions, will increase energy bills, puts grid reliability at risk, and have no impact on the environment.
If EPA can convince the Courts to uphold their approach to regulating the utility industry through means congress never authorized, then they will take these same arguments and use them to restructure every industrial sector in this country in a manner that appeases the political obligations of a president.
Neither the Clean Air Act nor the regulatory system was meant to operate this way and the president knows it. That is why he first attempted to progress his climate agenda and the predecessor of his Clean Power Plan through Congress in the form of cap-and-trade legislation. The problem the president ran into is that cap-and-trade is a bad deal for this country and elected officials who are accountable to their constituencies will not support it.
Without the requisite support of Congress, the president and his EPA have tasked unelected bureaucrats who are insulated from the consequences of progressing an all pain, no gain regulation and their legal allies to craft creative arguments to support it. The result of this is an oft repeated mantra from the EPA that the Clean Power Plan is built on a “solid legal foundation.” While the agency often makes eloquent, compelling legal arguments; they tend to be wrong.
Republicans are not the only ones who rightfully question the agency’s persistent attempts to blur legal lines. Democrats, leading environmentalists, Governors, well-respected economists, Attorneys General, state air officials, economic directors, utilities, manufacturers, American businesses, unions and many, many more have all joined the charge. Some have testified before this committee including the former chief counsel of the Sierra Club that the Clean Power Plan is legally unsound. President Obama’s own law professor testified before the House that that what the president and his EPA are doing is akin to “burning the Constitution.”
And the latest institution to join the charge: the Supreme Court of the United States.
On February 9, 2016, the Supreme issued a historic stay, which puts the Clean Power Plan on hold until completion of judicial review and accordingly extends all related deadlines. This is the relief that was requested and the relief that was granted, which even the EPA acknowledged when the agency thought a stay would never happen.
Yet, EPA is attempting to downplay the significance of the stay and argue against clear legal precedence as a last-ditch effort to scare states into spending scarce resources complying with a rule that could very well be overturned. It is important to note that a key consideration of the Court when assessing a stay is whether the parties requesting the relief will prevail on the merits. While a stay is not the final decision, it makes clear that the highest court in this country has serious reservations on the legal soundness of the rule.
Like much of the Clean Power Plan, how the stay actually plays out is up to the states. Over half of the states – 29 to be exact – have completely stopped work associated with the Power Plan, and 7 have slowed work. For the 11 states that continue to work on the CPP, a closer look reveals that their decision is more a matter of politics than prudent reason.
My message to states, stakeholders and impacted entities is simple and clear: the highest court in this country, the Supreme Court of the United States, put a hold on the Clean Power Plan and all associated deadlines, because it has serious concerns over the legality of this rule. As such, no State should fear any penalty for heeding the Court’s direction.
I thank the witnesses for their time and look forward to their statements.
Editor’s Note: Witnesses at this hearing included Ms. Allison D. Wood, partner at Hunton & Williams LLP; Mr. Micheal McInnes, CEO of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association on behalf of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association; State Representative Jack Bondon (Mo.-56); Richard L. Revesz, Lawrence King professor of Law and Dean Emeritus Director for the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law; and Katie Dykes, deputy commissioner for energy at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.