The House science committee wrapped up a week-long series of hearings Wednesday by bashing the Environmental Protection Agency's costly rules for regulating the air when it's hazy.
House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith of Texas said his panel has been going after the Obama administration's far-reaching environmental agenda since President Obama's first term in office. "Unfortunately, the EPA is again attempting to unnecessarily and unlawfully regulate the lives of the American people," he said at a Wednesday oversight hearing on the EPA's regional haze rules.
EPA defines regional haze as "visibility impairment caused by the cumulative air pollutant emissions from numerous sources over a wide geographic area," which it has observed at national parks from emissions drifting in from factories or power plants that linger in the air.
Smith's home state of Texas has fought the EPA over compliance, with nearby Oklahoma, in past years, resulting in the EPA imposing its own federal compliance rule on the states. It's safe to say the chairman isn't a big fan of the regulations, which he says will cost the states billions of dollars to comply with, while driving up the cost of energy for families.
"Congress clearly intended, through the Clean Air Act, that individual states be responsible and in charge of the program, not the federal government," Smith blasted. "Instead, the administration is determined to use this rule to impose more costly regulations on Americans."
He said in the Lone Star state alone, regional haze "imposition" is costing $2 billion while affecting the operation of more than one dozen power plants. And Texas continues to defy the plan. As of Friday, the state's attorney general requested federal judges stay the EPA's implementation of the rule in Texas, he noted.
"This Congress has often revealed how the EPA's regulatory overreach will cost billions of dollars, cause financial hardship for American families and diminish the competitiveness of American employers," Smith said.
"All with no significant benefit to climate change, public health or the economy."
It's a common Republican theme when it comes to EPA rules: Costs increase and there isn't much to show for it, in terms of cleaner air or water.
"The EPA has rushed through many costly and burdensome regulations," he said. "Examples include the strict new National Ambient Air Quality standards for ozone, Waters of the U.S., and the Clean Power Plan."
The three rules are being challenged by significant numbers of groups in the courts for being unconstitutional, overstepping the EPA's Clean Air Act authority, and being over-burdensome in terms of costs and the compliance burden.
"Contrary to the EPA's agenda, Americans want to be free from overly burdensome regulations, not tied up in more," Smith said.
Smith began a string of hearings on March 15 that started with EPA's vehicle rules that make amateur race cars illegal under the Clean Air Act.
Other hearings criticized the administration's Energy Department loan programs, while calling out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for putting out misleading climate change reports, while saying NASA's fiscal 2017 budget is more focused on monitoring the effects of global warming than getting a man on Mars.