House panel to explore EPA work with state regulators
Written byJEAN CHEMNICK, Greenwire
A key House subcommittee will again delve into how well U.S. EPA cooperates with state and local governments in implementing the Clean Air Act when Congress returns next month, after the elections.
The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power held two forums on similar topics in July and August, which panel Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) has said could help inform legislation to amend the Clean Air Act in the next Congress. The Energy and Commerce subpanel will hold its third go-round Nov. 29.
"In my discussions with people both here in D.C. and outside the Beltway, everyone found the first two forums to be helpful in discussing the Clean Air Act," Whitfield said in a statement. "These forums have started a healthy conversation on the act and I have been pleased with the feedback we've received. For that reason, I look forward to welcoming more state, local and tribal experts to share their views on what works well and what doesn't in our efforts to protect our nation's air."
The two previous forums included testimony by regulators from blue states and more conservative states, but much of the time was consumed by state regulator criticisms of EPA's working relationship with various states. For example, at the Aug. 2 forum Susana Hildebrand, chief engineer of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, talked at length about her agency's interactions with former Region 9 Administrator Al Armendariz (E&E Daily, Aug. 3).
Armendariz resigned in April amid a Republican outcry over comments that his critics said showed hostility toward energy producers.
A committee aide said the November forum would include different participants from different states, but a witness list has not yet been released.
"Despite the Act's apparent effectiveness, the 1990 amendments are characterized by frequent litigation, increasingly costly mandates, and a complex web of interrelated requirements for state, local and tribal governments," the committee said in its announcement of the forum.
The GOP-controlled House passed several bills in 2011 and 2012 to roll back or eliminate Clean Air Act rules, but a Democratic-controlled Senate and White House ensured they would not become law. Whitfield has said he hopes circumstances in the next Congress will allow for a substantial amendment of the law. By Nov. 29, he will know whether he has a Senate and White House that will give him the opportunity he has sought.