Members of the House and Senate on May 15 sent a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy calling on EPA to include input from small business representatives as the agency develops a model federal plan under the proposed Clean Power Plan.
That business input would be through something called a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) panel.
Those on the letter included Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OKla.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works; Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship; Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.); Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.); Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.); Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce; Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Committee on Small Business; Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power; and Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas), vice chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power.
“It is our understanding that EPA informed participants involved in this process on April 30, 2015, that it was officially convening a SBAR panel,” said the letter to McCarthy. “At the same time, however, it would appear that EPA is very close to the time when the agency will be submitting the proposed federal plan to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for interagency review. It is not clear how EPA can solicit, receive, and incorporate meaningful stakeholder input from small entities into the soon-to-be proposed federal plan if the agency intends to meet its summer 2015 deadline,” the members said in the letter.
Under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA), EPA is required to convene a Small Business Advocacy Review panel before publishing a proposed rule that will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The purpose of a SBAR panel is to give Small Entity Representatives (SERs) an opportunity to assess a proposed rule’s potential impacts and provide recommendations to the agency to minimize any significant economic impacts.
EPA did not convene a panel for its Clean Power Plan proposal, but recently decided to formally convene a panel for its model federal plan, which is expected to be proposed later this summer. EPA officially heard from small businesses on May 14 during a public meeting. But, the letter sad that according to a recent letter from the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, SERs would be ill-prepared given that the EPA did not provide “sufficient materials to convene the panel” and “any panel conducted under these circumstances is unlikely to succeed at identifying reasonable regulatory alternatives for small businesses.”
With EPA operating under an expedited timeline to finalize its proposed carbon regulations, including the Clean Power Plan, and issue a model federal plan, these congressional leaders said they are concerned the agency is simply “checking-the-box” when it comes to its SBREFA requirements and not engaging in a meaningful discussion with small businesses that stand to be heavily impacted by President Obama’s “economically harmful regulations.”
The Clean Power Plan, proposed last summer by EPA, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants by 30% by 2030, with a stringent initial compliance deadline in 2020 that alone is expected to shut dozens of coal-fired power plants.