Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member Full Committee Markup of H.R. 2834, “To Enact Certain Laws Relating to the Environment as Title 55, United States Code”

Opening Statement of U.S. Representative Conyers begins at 34:52 through 40:34

“Mr. Chairman, I oppose H.R. 2834 because of serious concerns that I have about the process by which this legislation comes before us today as well its substance.  To begin with, the process by which this bill is proceeding to a markup – with only minimal notice and in the absence of collaborative and deliberative bipartisan review – stands in stark contrast with longstanding Committee practice in this area.

“This Committee has a long tradition of considering codification legislation pursuant to a thoroughly inclusive process that often spans multiple congresses.  A positive law codification -such as this legislation - requires close scrutiny because, once enacted, it repeals existing law and restates the law in a new form as a positive law title of the United States Code.

“To that end, Majority and Minority staff traditionally work closely with the Office of Law Revision Counsel and relevant committees of jurisdiction as well as all affected agencies and interested parties in the private sector to ensure that these bills truly are completely accurate restatements of current law.

“I am unaware of a single instance in which this process has not been completely bipartisan and in which the final legislative product has not had the support of both the Chair and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee. However, the bill we are considering today has had no Minority input, was introduced by neither the Chairman nor the Ranking Member of the full Committee, and appears to have had no comment from any relevant committee.

“Based on consultation with Law Revision Counsel staff and other interested parties, it appears that critical input from affected agencies has not been adequately solicited prior to the finalization of this legislative text. 

“Although the Environmental Protection Agency was given an opportunity to consider prior iterations of the legislation, such outreach appears to have been sporadic and without closure. When an actual bill was introduced this June, the Environmental Protection Agency was then given only 30 days to respond with comments on the 585 pages of text when the normal comment period would have been at least 180 days.  

“In addition, the Chairman of the Regulatory Reform Subcommittee sent letters to relevant committees requiring their feedback on this voluminous legislation also with only a 30-day deadline to respond. 

“I would note that these request letters – which under normal procedures would have been sent by both the Chair and Ranking Member of the Full Committee – were not shared with the Minority until this past Friday evening. 

“Other agencies, such as the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and the Council for Environmental Quality, were never consulted on the potential far-reaching effects that this legislation might have on existing law. 

“Another concern that I have is that this legislation goes far beyond simply restating current law. 

For example, the EPA, in the brief time it was given to respond, identified serious drafting issues with the bill that could be construed to change the meaning of existing law.  In particular, the Agency adamantly disputes  the bill’s interpretation of current law regarding its authority under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act to issue the Clean Power Plan and regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other stationary sources.  

“This provision has generated significant confusion and the EPA warns that this bill, if it were law, ‘would exacerbate the confusion.’

“Outside organizations, such as the Sierra Club, have raised similar concerns that the legislation will  ‘introduce unnecessary ambiguity’ into the Clean Air Act.

“Finally, I am concerned that this sharp departure from normal Committee process may have been influenced by broader political considerations and a possible desire to impact pending legal disputes. 

“The Natural Resources Defense Council, along with other environmental groups, have cautioned Members that this bill ‘is a blatant effort by polluters and their allies to bias current litigation against the Clean Power Plan.’ Tellingly, this bill was noticed for markup on the very same day that the EPA issued a final rulemaking regarding the Clean Power Plan.  As authority to issue the rulemaking, the EPA explicitly cited section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. 

“And industry advocates have already cited this proposed restatement of current law in support of their challenges to the EPA's authority to implement the Clean Power Plan. At best, consideration of this bill today represents an incomplete and irresponsible legislative process.  At worst, it represents an effort to push through a purely political agenda to change substantive environmental law.

“Accordingly, I urge my colleagues to oppose H.R. 2834.”
Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

No comments:

Post a Comment