Senate Votes on Sen. Paul Resolution to Halt EPA Overreach
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Sen. Rand Paul invoked the privilege of the Congressional Review Act to force the Senate to vote on an unnecessary and overreaching rule from the Environmental Protection Agency. The resolution of disapproval was defeated 41-56.
"The Obama Administration's regulatory power grab is costing Americans - and the EPA's overzealous job-killing approach to environmental protection is too. I am pro-clean air. I am pro-clean water. I am pro-jobs. Repealing this rule would have afforded us all three of those things," Sen. Paul said after the vote.
Prior to the vote, Sen. Paul took to the Senate floor to speak about the EPA's regulatory overreach.
I rise today in support of clean air, clean water, electricity and jobs. I think we can have a clean environment and jobs, but not if we let this administration continue to pass job-killing regulations.
These new regulations will cost over $2 billion and over a course of a decade or more may well exceed $100 billion. We add these new regulations to over $2 trillion worth of regulations already on the books.
The President is adding $10 billion worth of regulations every month, and we wonder we have 14 million people out of work. Two million new people out of work since this President took office. And yet, we continue to add regulation upon regulation upon regulation. So far this year President Obama has added $80 billion worth of new regulations.
If this President is serious about job creation, he needs to cease and desist from adding new job-killing regulations. The vote today has nothing to do with repealing the Clean Air Act. I'm sure we will hear hysterics on the other side, we will hear from environmental extremists. But this has nothing to do with repealing the Clean Air Act.
We have rules in place to control emissions from our utility plants, we're not arguing against that. In fact, we are arguing for continuing the same rules that have been in place for some time.
Over the decades, our environment is becoming cleaner and cleaner. Emissions have gone down with each successive decade. We are simply asking the regulations already on the book stay in place and we do not make the regulations so onerous that we put utility plants out of business and that we have an inability to supply electricity to this country.
Over 50 percent of your electricity comes from coal-fired plants. And if we shut down the coal-fired plants or if we bankrupt them as the President explicitly said in his campaign that that would be the desire of his policies, if that should occur, be prepared for brownouts in your big cities. Be prepared for days when there will not be electricity. But also be prepared for rising unemployment as these job-killing regulations put a strangle hold on the economy.
Now the question is can we have clean air and jobs? Absolutely, but to have clean air and jobs, you must have balance. We're at the point of becoming so overzealous and of overreaching to such a great extent that we are killing jobs. We are killing industry. And we are going backwards in time.
Before we add new regulations, we must ask: are the current regulations working? The answer is an unequivocal yes. Emissions from utility plants have been declining for decades.
In fact, while coal-based power has nearly doubled in the last several decades, emissions have been reduced by 60 percent. I need to repeat that because if you listen to the hysterics, you would think otherwise.
You would think the statue of liberty will shortly be under water and the polar bears are all drowning and that we're dying from pollution. It's absolutely and utterly untrue. All of the statistics -- and these are statistics from the EPA, all of the statistics from government, from the EPA show declining pollution.
Everything about this argument is that the environment has been improving for decades. In fact, John Stossell has done a program on this and he asked fifth graders do you think the environment is cleaner now or 30 years ago? All of our students have been brain washed by environmental hysterics who say it is worse now. It is actually much better now.
Here are some statistics. We're talking about regulating two emissions that come from utility plants. The first is sulfur dioxide. You can see within the midst of the range here the average. The average has been going down every decade.
We have reduced sulfur dioxide just in the last six years by 45 percent under the current regulations. If we go to, and look at the nitrous oxides which are also regulated under this series of regulations, you can also see we've been in decline.
The existing rules are working. Nitrous oxides which can create ozone are down 45 percent in the last five years. The existing rules are working. All we're arguing for is that we not become overzealous, that we not overreach, and that the regulators and the regulations not become job-killing regulations. That's where we're headed.
This administration has proposed a series of radical environmental changes to our law. These are regulations that are being written by unelected bureaucrats that we in Congress are not having a say in.
So what I'm asking for today is that Congress vote approval or disapproval of these radical, extremist regulations, these job-killing regulations that are coming down the pike. If you look at jobs and you look at what will happen to jobs, you will see that these regulations -- simply this regulation alone could cost as much as 50,000 jobs.
Indirectly, the people who work for those who would be losing their jobs, as much as 250,000 indirect jobs could be lost from this. And so we do need to ask the important question: are the existing regulations working or do we need to make the regulations more strict?
This is a balancing act. On the one hand, we have our environment which we all care about. No matter what the other said will say, Republicans do believe in clean air and clean water. But we also believe in jobs.
And it's a balancing act in our country and in all of our communities to try to have both jobs and a clean environment. But you have to look at the facts. You cannot become hysterical and say the other side's for pollution.
That's the kind of stuff we're hearing. We're all for clean air. We're all for clean water. And we should all be for jobs. My concern is that the President has allowed radicals to take over the administration, has allowed environmental extremists to take over policy. And as a consequence, we are losing jobs.
If you look at what will happen -- and it's important to note. People think they plug into the wall their election car and that has nothing to do with coal? 50 percent of your electricity comes from coal.
Does that mean it's perfect? No, but we have to look at the emissions from coal-fired utility. The emissions have been declining decade after decade after decade. While coal-fired power has nearly doubled in the last several decades, we're having to produce more electricity from coal in the last several decades, emissions have declined 60 percent.
We are doing a good job with the current rules. Let's don't kill off industry. Let's don't kill off jobs. Let's don't put our citizens at risk during the height of a summer and height of a heat wave from not having electricity or from the height of the cold waves in winter for not having enough electricity to heat their houses.
Now the alarmists like Al Gore and others would have you believe that everything is worse and the world is on the edge of some sort of cataclysm. If we allow them to control our debate, if we don't talk reasonably and rationally about the facts, if we don't look at the statistics of what's been occurring to control emissions, we're not going to get anywhere.
I'm asking we base our discussion on rational facts and not on emotions. To give you an idea of where one of our extremists is coming from, there is one of them, who is a prominent extremist in this debate, she has called for a planetary law. She wants a planetary law of one child per family because she's worried about the carbon footprint of the worst polluters in the whole whorld.
You know who she thinks the worst pollutants in the whole world are? Humans -- for breathing. She says we have far too many breathers and the way to reduce them is to have one child per family. You know how China does that.
I don't think we can let the debate get out of control here. Today's debate is about overreach. I'd like to give you an example. If you want to see, just think in your mind about what cities looked like in 1900.
We have a picture here of Pittsburgh, where I was born in 1905 and a picture of Pittsburgh today. You may not be to see the picture from a distance, but you can get an idea that throughout Pittsburgh it was smog and pollution and it was heavy.
They say at noon on a day in Pittsburgh that you could go out and your white shirt would become black. They say at noon in Pittsburgh, that the street lanterns were on because you couldn't see through the smog and the smoke. Here's Pittsburgh today.
We're not arguing for no rules. The rules we have in place have been working. What we are argue something not to let the rules become so overzealous, not to become so onerous that we kill jobs and we kill industry. It has to be we want a clean environment and jobs. We have to have a balanced approach to this, and we cannot let hysteria and environmental extremism take over our country.
The west led the industrial revolution. Life expectancy has doubled since the discovery of electricity. Childhood and infectious mortality have become 1/100th of what they were before electricity. For the entire advance of civilization, there are advantages and there are disadvantages.
As we have advanced from an industrial society, there have been problems, but we've been ironing out those problems for 100 years now and we are doing a good job of doing that and we shouldn't allow the regulations to become so onerous that we begin to lose jobs.
Now, one of the other things that people argue about and one of the big health concerns that have with regard to pollution is with regards to asthma. The interesting thing is if you look at all the statistics on all of the emissions from our power plants, all of these declining lines are emissions.
Emissions have been going down decade upon decade upon decade. The incidence of asthma has been rising. So if you are looking at this chart, you would say, maybe emissions declining is inversely proportional to asthma.
Well, the other argument could be, maybe they're not related at all, but they definitely aren't proportional. So you aren't seeing rising incidents of asthma because we're having increased pollution. We have decreased pollution and rising incidents of asthma, so either they're inversely proportional or they're not related at all.
This is an important point because what comes out of the hysteria of the environmental extremists are, you'll hear people stand up and say, half a million people are going to die if this goes through. You know, the vice President recently said that Republicans, because they didn't vote for his jobs plan, were for murder and rape.
The ridiculousness of these statistics that are trotted out as true should be spurned. We should think about things calmly and rationally and decide, can we have clean air and jobs? So when we hear these statistics, let's be very careful not to get carried away.
Joel Schwartz has written about asthma and the environment and pollution, and he notes that as air pollution declines, the asthma prevalence continues to rise. One possible conclusion is that air pollution is not a cause of asthma or not even related.
Every pollutant we measure has been dropping for decades, pretty much everywhere, while asthma prevalence has been rising pretty much everywhere. Now, the other side will say, but the American lung association says pollution is making asthma worse.
Well you know what? The EPA actually gave the American lung association $5 million, so I think their objectivity has been somewhat tainted. If you look at asthma incidents and you say, well, where is asthma the worst?
Well, interestingly, asthma is worst in the countries that have the lowest incidence of pollution, and asthma is actually lowest in the countries that have the highest evidence of pollution. So as we look to these statistics, we need to be concerned, one, about the cost of these new regulations; we need to be concerned about having balance between job creation and between job-killing regulations.
I'm afraid what's happened is we've opened up the white house and this administration to environmental extremists, the kind of people who say that, well, the polar bears are drowning. You know the whole thing on the polar bears was based on the citing two of polar bears on an iceberg and they all of a sudden start saying this.
Once you start counting the polar bears, apparently they are not in decline. So the statistics and hysteria over -- within 50 years the statue of liberty will be under water ... this is the kind of hysteria you don't want to drive policy on.
It is the kind of hysteria when your brother-in-law are out of, and 2 million new people are out of work since this administration came into power, we need to be concerned about regulatory overreach.
Another thing we're concerned about is what will happen with these new regulations with electricity rates. We have a map here that shows across the United States what will happen. When you think about your electricity rates going up and the expense to this, think about who gets hit worst: the working class and senior citizens on fixed income.
They are the ones who will suffer from rising electricity rates. It is the person who depends only on their social security check and has no other means of supporting themselves and is trying to pay for their electricity.
In some regions electricity could go up almost 20 percent with this series of regulations that this administration is proposing. This is throughout the country. It's more in some areas than others, but it will go up dramatically, and that is the danger of allowing these new regulations is what will happen to electric rates and will poor people in the winter or the heat of the summer be able to afford their electricity because the cost of these regulations is real. The cost of these regulations will be passed on to the consumer, and there are dangers, significant dangers, of there being periods of time in large city where there's not enough electric to go around and the electrical grid overwhelmed.
As we go forward and as you begin to hear some of the hysteria that will occur from the other side, be aware that what we're arguing for is not the elimination of regulations. We are arguing for continuing the existing regulations, which the two emissions that we're talking about have declined over the decades.
Sulfur dioxide has declined 70 percent. Nitrous oxide has declined over 50 percent over the last several decades. So the question is, if we're doing an adequate job, if we're doing a good job, if emissions are going down, why would we want to impose new rules that will cause loss of jobs and will cause an increase in the rate of electrical costs?
One of the reasons might be if you are cynical -- one of the reasons might be because the President wants to reward some of thinks campaign contributors. For example, Solyndra -- the owners of Solyndra, which makes solar panels -- or did; they've now gone bankrupt after they ate up $500 million of your money -- perhaps this is more of a political argument, that he doesn't like certain industry, but he likes other industry. So he's willing to spend your money -- $500 million worth -- on one company.
Solyndra went bankrupt recently and $500 million is still a considerable amount of money. I'll put that in perspective. In Kentucky we get over $400 million, about $420 million to pave our roads annually each year out of the gas tax we pay. 35 states get about the same amount, somewhere under $500 million.
Yet the President saw fit, because he's been consumed with this environmental extremism, he saw fit to give $500 million, more than 35 states get for their highway fund, he saw fit to take that money and give it to one political contributor because a decided that he wants -- because he's decided that he wants more expensive electricity. He wants electricity that is produced by people who have been his campaign contributors.
So as we look at adds these new regulations, these need to be put in context. We need to look at and seriously think about whether we want our country to be taken over by environmental extremists, whether or not we want or care about we can have a clean environment and jobs.
I think we can have both. I think we can have both clean air, clean water, and jobs, but it will require a balanced approach. And my fear if these regulations go forward, the balance will become imbalanced, that there will be job-killing regulations that will cause electric rates to go up and cause us to have significantly more economic problems than we're already in.
So, Mr. President, I call at this time for my colleagues to consider supporting this resolution, which will be a disapproval of these new and onerous regulations, and I reserve the remainder of my time.