Jun 19 2012
Mr. President, I rise today to express my support for Senate Joint Resolution 37 and to express my deep and profound disapproval of the Obama Administration's handling of the utility MACT rule.
Let me first address what this debate is not about. This is not about a debate between one side that supports clean air and another side that does not. We all support and understand the importance of maintaining our pristine environment, maintaining the quality of human health and the ecosystem.
In my state, the great state of Utah holds some of the greatest land resources in the country and some of the most beautiful landscapes. They are all a source of pride for all Americans and especially for all Utahans, and they provide a significant economic benefit for my state in the form of tourism dollars. I would not support any legislation ever that would damage our environmental brand in Utah or that would harm our environment.
What this debate does expose is this administration's vigorous, unfettered attempts to severely limit the use of coal technology and a complete and utter disregard for the economic benefits of this industry and the economic effects of this kind of overall aggressive regulation. If implemented fully, the Utility MACT rule would give utilities nationwide just three short years to fully complete very costly upgrades to their plants. Many industry experts believe that these standards are nearly impossible to meet in that time frame. Utilities will need closer to five or six years to make the necessary upgrades required by this regulatory scheme. Those who are unable to comply will have no choice but to shut down unless or until they can meet those standards. This inevitably, with absolute certainty, will result in sharp spikes to energy costs, increased power bills for all Americans, affecting the most vulnerable among us, the most severely.
Higher energy costs will in turn have a direct impact on the family budget. The more we as Americans spend on higher energy costs, the less we have available for savings, for education, and for other priorities.
Although the President campaigns around the country by trying to convince Americans that he knows how to create jobs, this rule alone has been estimated by some industry experts as likely to kill 180,000 to 215,000 jobs by 2015.
So, one has to wonder why it is that this administration is nonetheless imposing rules that it knows cannot be met and that if they must be met will kill this many jobs and hurt this many Americans. Why are they ignoring the obvious economic consequences of shutting down an industry that produces about half of all the electricity we use in the United States of America today? It just doesn't make any sense.
We can have sensible regulations that keep our air and our water and other aspects of our environment clean. We need those things; we want those things as Americans. We can also have a balanced approach that considers the economic cost of new rules and restrictions on small businesses and on consumers. That's what we need.
Utility MACT is an example of a regulation that does neither of these things. It accomplishes none of these interests.
I strongly urge my colleagues to support Senate Joint Resolution 37, and I stand with a growing bipartisan group of Senators, private sector unions and business interests who believe we can do better as Americans than imposing these kinds of regulations on the American people, and who also believe that it's vitally important that when we do put these kinds of regulations on the American people, that we first have the kind of robust debate and discussion that Americans have come to expect from their political institutions.
Two separate provisions of the constitution, Article 1, Section 1, and Article 1, Section 7, clearly place the legislative process, the power to make rules that carry the force of generally applicable, binding federal law in the hands of congress, not in an Executive Branch Agency.
The American people know this, they understand it, they expect it, they rely on it because they know that if we pass laws that the people don't like, that the people can't accept, that kills jobs that hurts those most vulnerable among us; that we can be held politically accountable come election time, every two years in the case of members of the House, every six years in the case of members of this body.
When we circumvent that process, when we allow that process, the law-making process to be carried out entirely within an Executive Branch Agency, consisting of people who are perfectly well-intentioned and well-educated, do not stand accountable to the people, we insulate the lawmakers from those governed by those same laws.
This is exactly why we need to exercise our authority under the congressional review act by passing these resolutions of disapproval from time to time, but it's all the more reason why we need more lasting, significant reform, reform that can be had through the REINS Act Proposal. This is a proposal that has already passed through the House favorably and needs to be passed in this body. It’s a bill that would require that for any new regulation promulgated at the administrative level - any new regulation that qualifies as a major rule because it costs American consumers and small business interests, individuals and families and all others in America more than $100 million in a year - that it would take effect if and only if it were first passed into law in the House and in the Senate and signed into law by the President.
This is how our law-making process is supposed to operate. This is a system that our founding fathers carefully put in place. Assuring that those who make the laws and thereby have the capacity to affect the rights of individual Americans can and will be held accountable to the people for the very laws that they pass.
Now, I tried to get the REINS Act up for consideration in connection with the Agriculture Bill. We were not successful in doing that. Apparently, some in this body, some in control of this body were unwilling to have a vote on the REINS Act Proposal as an amendment to the Agriculture Bill.
Sooner or later, we need to have a vote on the REINS Act. We need to have this debate and discussion to assure that the laws that are passed in this country are passed by men and women chosen by the people accountable to the people, that we may yet still have that guarantee in our country, a guarantee of government of the people, by the people and for the people. Thank you, Mr. President.