Senator Lisa Murkowski today raised concerns with a number of rulemakings the Environmental Protection Administration is working on and the potential impact on the national economy, as well as Alaska.
"The sheer number of rulemakings the agency is currently proposing, the cost of compliance with the vast array of regulations already on the books, and what, at times, are the unreasonable consequences of their enforcement is incredibly frustrating to the public," Murkowski told acting Environmental Protection Administration Administrator Bob Perciasepe at Wednesday's hearing of the Senate Appropriations Interior, Environment Subcommittee on the EPA's $8.2 billion budget request.
Murkowski said she was following a list of roughly 60 different EPA rulemakings that could have negative effects on Alaska and the nation's energy supply. The latest addition to the list is a veterinary clinic in Soldotna, Alaska that could be forced to discontinue providing crematorium services to local residents because of new EPA incinerator rules that could costs up to $50,000 a year to meet.
"It would be outrageous if this small family-run business has to cease providing an important service for local families with pets because the cost of compliance with regulations of dubious environmental benefit -- at least in this instance -- is too high," Murkowski said. "But it is also emblematic of what many feel about the EPA -- that it is a vast bureaucracy issuing a dizzying number of rules that have enormous impacts on their lives, while conversely they have very little input into the agency's decisions."
In the past month alone, the EPA indicated its plans to not only finalize regulations for greenhouse gases on new power plants this year but also to get a significant start on rules for existing power plants. The agency also unveiled new draft rules concerning the sulfur content in gasoline. And last Friday it announced new rules concerning water discharges from power plants.
"Putting aside the asserted merits of these various proposals, no one can dispute their far-reaching impacts; from effectively barring the construction of new coal-fired plants to raising the cost of gasoline by as much as 10 cents per gallon for the average consumer, even though our economy continues to sputter and unemployment remains high," Murkowski said.
Murkowski also raised concerns about Tuesday's federal appeals court ruling on the EPA's authority to retroactively withdraw Clean Water Act permits after they've been issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The decision could have a chilling effect on investment in Alaska and across the country, Murkowski said.
"I have to tell you, I'm concerned about what we have seen coming out of the circuit court here," Murkowski told Perciasepe. "If the EPA can withdraw in effect the Army Corps permit at any point, how can you ever give the assurance that any permit is ever final if you've got this dangling out there that it can be removed almost unilaterally by the EPA?"