GOP Senators say EPA ignoring state Clean Air Act input

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) Republicans on Oct. 31 released a report on cooperative federalism that basically says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has trampled on states’ rights with some of its new regulations.

The report is entitled, “Neglecting a Cornerstone Principle of the Clean Air Act: President Obama’s EPA Leaves States Behind.” Many of those Clean Air Act initiatives are forcing a rolling series of shutdowns of coal-fired power plants across the country.

“The report chronicles the Administration’s growing failure to adhere to the cooperative federalism approach in working with States as established in the Clean Air Act,” the GOP members said in an Oct. 31 statement.

The Clean Air Act (CAA) was built on the principle of “cooperative federalism” in which the federal government and individual states would work together to control air pollution and improve air quality, the report says.

This report shows the attempts made by the Obama Administration (EPA specifically) to phase out state and local involvement, and also what the committee Republicans are doing to maintain and uphold cooperative federalism, one of the cornerstones of the CAA.

Since 2009, a majority of states have expressed concerns on a variety of fronts about EPA’s failure to adhere to the CAA’s cooperative federalism design.

For instance, the report said, states are troubled by EPA’s practice of entering secretive “sue and settle” arrangements, in which environmental organizations particularly friendly to the Administration will sue the federal government, claiming that its regulatory obligations have not been satisfied. In the ensuing negotiations, states are not included in the discussion as new regulations are created.

“Evidence suggests that EPA entered more ‘sue and settle’ agreements during this Administration’s first term than all three previous presidential terms combined,” the report said. “In addition, States are concerned that EPA is pursuing the unilateral revoking of long-standing, well-accepted provisions of State air quality programs. The data show that the current Administration is rejecting an unprecedented number of State Implementation Plan provisions. It is also apparent that EPA is imposing unreasonable timeframes for the States to review and comment on upcoming, complex EPA regulations; EPA is not providing equal treatment to the States in responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests; and EPA has created significant uncertainty among the States by prematurely reconsidering national air quality standards.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.