Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Republicans Schedule Three Hearings This Week to Limit EPA Authority on Clean Air Act

The Republican majority in the US House of Representatives, in particularly those chairing subcommittees of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has scheduled three hearings this week in their continuing attempts to limit EPA authority.  The ranking Democrat on the Committee, Henry Waxman, yesterday sent a letter to Republican Representatives Fred Upton, Ed Whitfield, and John Shimkus complaining that the Committee is not giving adequate notice to EPA officials of the hearings.

The result of this "insufficient notice" has been that EPA is unable to provide a witness for two of the three hearings.

The three hearings as noted in Waxman's letter and in the online Congressional newspaper The Hill are:

·        On Wednesday, April 13, the Energy and Power Subcommittee will hold a legislative hearing on draft legislation to amend the Clean Air Act as it relates to drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf.

·        On Thursday, April 14, the Environment and Economy Subcommittee will hold a legislative hearing on H.R. 1391, legislation to amend the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act to block an EPA proposal designed to ensure the safe disposal of coal ash.

·        On Friday, April 15, the Energy and Power Subcommittee will hold a hearing on five rulemakings under the Clean Air Act and one under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.  The Clean Air Act rulemakings address toxic air pollutants, including mercury, from a variety of different types and sizes of sources.  The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act rule addresses the definition of solid waste.  Draft legislation relating to these rulemakings is expected to be circulated during the week.
According to Waxman, EPA was not contacted about the hearing until after it was publicly announced, a trend that goes against historical practice in which the chair (including Waxman when the Democrats were in the majority) would reach out to relevant organizations weeks in advance of a hearing in order to allow time for them to prepare a response to any concerns.

Waxman also called for "a second legislative hearing on the Clean Air Amendment that will be examined by the Committee" in order to give EPA a chance to provide a witness to testify. 

The Hill article, including the full letter by Waxman to the Republican Chairs, can be read here.


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