BY U.S. CONGRESSMAN BRUCE WESTERMAN –
Arkansans regularly share with me their frustrations and concerns of Washington’s overreach into their lives. At the top of the list are the unnecessary burdens imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While we all support commonsense environmental protections, the EPA’s overreach in our state and nationwide causes much uncertainty. That’s why Congress is taking steps to rein it in.
David, a North Little Rock resident who works in the construction industry, recently emailed me in support of protecting our nation’s waters. However, he made it clear that he believes the EPA’s ‘waters of the United States’ (WOTUS) rule will create huge problems and uncertainty for his industry. David wrote that costs will increase, the industry will lose jobs and he and others will face unnecessary delays that have nothing to do with protecting our waters. I share David’s concerns.
EPA’s WOTUS rule is a classic example of overreach. This rule gives the agency much greater power to oversee the land use decisions of homeowners, small businesses and family farms throughout Arkansas under the guise of water protection. Surface water is already protected by the federal government under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and through state and local measures. The Obama Administration is trying to overrule state and local conservation efforts, with a one-size-fits-all approach from Washington.
The EPA’s mandates have far reach. The agency is implementing a carbon dioxide emissions regulation that will severely impact Arkansas and threaten manufacturing jobs. Congress already rejected a similar policy. In October I toured the Independence Steam Electric Station in Newark. The coal-fired plant is one of five in Arkansas that provide a reliable source of affordable energy but is threatened by this mandate. Unfortunately, the EPA’s proposal makes Arkansas families vulnerable to higher energy costs, electricity blackouts and job cuts – hitting hardworking families, seniors and those struggling to make ends meet the hardest.
Arkansas is taking steps to reduce carbon emissions without EPA interference. Our utilities are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to make these plants some of the cleanest coal plants in the world. The way to continue reducing emissions is through innovation, technology and positive incentives—not heavy-handed mandates that hurt hardworking American families and drive up energy bills across the country.
The Senate, with my support, recently struck down EPA’s overreaching WOTUS rule and its attack on affordable energy regulations with the Congressional Review Act (CRA). This rarely used law allows Congress to repeal a regulation with a simple majority vote. This is an important tool to push back against the policies supported by President Obama but not backed by the American people and Congress.
Once the House approves the CRA resolutions of disapproval, the bills will be headed to the President’s desk. While he will likely veto these resolutions, he will be forced to answer the American people’s desire to stop the implementation of these mandates. Also, when the President heads to international climate talks in Europe next month, we expect he will promise the spending of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars on a global climate slush fund. Our resolutions show that the President doesn’t have support in Congress for this wasteful spending.
Finally, the effort to repeal these costly climate and water mandates continues in the courts, where states, including Arkansas, have filed lawsuits to protect hardworking Americans against the overreach.
I will continue to support Arkansans in this fight against overregulation.