Rounds Looks Back on Time as EPW Subcommittee Chairman in Senate Floor Speech
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today spoke on the Senate floor about his experience chairing the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight during the 114th Congress. The subcommittee is tasked with providing oversight on the agencies under The EPW Committee’s jurisdiction, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies that have implemented excessive, overreaching regulations under this administration.
“Throughout this Congress, the goal of our Subcommittee has been to unify and lead an effort to advance meaningful regulatory reform in Congress,” said Rounds on the Senate floor. “We must make certain the regulatory process reflects transparency and sound science and is based on a realistic economic foundation and meaningful public participation that considers the multitude of facets of the U.S. economy. With an ally in the White House next year who has committed to reducing burdensome regulations, I plan to continue this effort throughout the next Congress and beyond. The success of the U.S. economy and the creation of American jobs depends on Congress making a concerted effort to take back their authority and reign in the rulemaking process.”
Full text of Rounds’ speech, as prepared for delivery:
Madam/Mr. President, I rise today to speak on the need for regulatory reform and also on the work we have done on the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight, of which I have had the great privilege to Chair in the 114th Congress.
I would be remiss if I did not also recognize our Ranking Member from Massachusetts, Senator Markey, for his contribution to our oversight efforts.
One of my main goals as Chairman has been to conduct a thorough and systematic review of the regulatory process focusing on the impacts of these regulations on citizens and businesses, and – most importantly – solutions to these problems.
We have sought to make certain, federal regulations are promulgated in a transparent, open process with adequate public participation.
Our subcommittee has held hearings conducting oversight on various aspects of the rulemaking process.
This includes the adequacy of the science the agencies rely on when promulgating regulations, the increasing number of unfunded mandates agencies impose on state and local governments, the impact of lawsuits on the rulemaking process, and the impacts these regulations have on small businesses, state and local governments and landowners.
Since I began working in the Senate nearly two years ago, it has become increasingly clear that economic growth, American innovation and job creation are being smothered by heavy-handed federal regulations imposed by Washington bureaucrats who think they know what is best for American families, states, local governments and businesses.
According to the American Action Forum, since 2009, this administration has finalized 2,973 regulations at a cost of $862.7 billion dollars as of December 7.
Of these, 179 regulations have come from the Environmental Protection Agency, costing American taxpayers $342.5 billion dollars.
Since writing this speech one week ago, ten more regulations had been finalized, with five of those coming from the EPA.
EPA regulations alone make up nearly half of the cost of all the regulations finalized in the past seven years.
As Chairman of the EPW Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight, it has become clear to me that the EPA is one of the most egregious government agencies in imposing burdensome federal regulations on citizens, states and businesses.
We have found a failure to review the most current and important science that the agency supposedly bases its regulations on.
We have found that the “sue and settle” process utilized by special interest groups leads to a rushed and reckless rulemaking process that does not follow the proper regulatory process or allow for adequate public participation from those these rules will impact the most.
Further, the EPA regularly fails to take into account how their regulations will impact states and shows little regard to how the states will use their limited resources to comply with these regulations, thereby issuing rules that impose federal unfunded mandates on states, local and tribal governments.
From 2009 to 2014, the EPA issued a total of 19 rules that contained costly unfunded mandates on state governments.
The Office of Management and Budget’s 2015 report to Congress estimated federal regulations and unfunded mandates cost states, cities and the general public between $57 and $85 billion dollars every single year.
State and local governments are then required to enforce these misguided regulations that have been promulgated by Washington bureaucrats who lack any understanding of the real-world consequences of their regulations or the unique characteristics of the various states.
Alarmingly, we have also found that the EPA regularly fails to conduct a thorough and accurate economic analysis which should provide an accurate representation of the costs their regulations will impose on taxpayers and businesses.
This leads to grossly inaccurate economic analysis of regulations that affect huge swaths of the U.S. economy and thousands of U.S. businesses and American jobs.
A 2014 report from the Government Accountability Office found that – on multiple occasions and with major, costly regulations – the EPA did not provide the public with an explanation of the economic information behind its decision making, despite its obligations to do so.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued the Michigan v. EPA decision, finding the EPA unreasonably failed to consider costs when deciding to regulate mercury emissions from power plants.
This impacts the ability of our businesses to conduct business on a daily basis, to compete in a competitive global marketplace and to employ Americans in steady, well-paying jobs.
Notably, small businesses make up 99.7 percent of U.S. employer firms.
And federal agencies are required, by law, to examine the impact their regulations will have on small businesses.
Throughout our oversight process, we found that the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy submitted comments to the EPA expressing concerns over a number of recent rulemakings such as the Waters of the U.S. Rule and EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations.
However, the EPA moved forward with these regulations with little to no regard for their impact on U.S. small businesses – the backbone of the U.S. economy.
As a result, rather than creating jobs and focusing on growing their business, U.S. small businesses are forced to use limited resources to comply with a myriad of costly and burdensome regulations.
This year alone, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals imposed a nation-wide injunction on the WOTUS rule, and the Supreme Court imposed a nationwide stay on the Clean Power Plan.
While I applaud these decisions, we should not be forced to rely on the courts to prevent such regulations from taking effect.
I am also deeply troubled by reports that the EPA and Army Corps are illegally continuing to implement the WOTUS rule despite the court’s nationwide stay.
During our Subcommittee field hearing in Rapid City earlier this year, we heard from several witnesses about the difficulty and confusion landowners are facing with regard to WOTUS.
I am concerned that if this continues, it may get to the point where the property that is subject to the burdensome regulations loses its value.
Make no mistake, I understand that rules and regulations have a place in society.
We all want clean air, clean water and safe chemicals, but there is a better way to achieve this without imposing burdensome regulations.
These flaws in the EPA’s rulemaking process have prevented agencies from making well-informed decisions.
Even more troubling, the public, state and local governments and American businesses are prevented from understanding the need, basis for and the real impact of regulations.
This regulatory quagmire did not happen overnight.
It comes from decades of increased federal bureaucracy, out-of-control spending and federal agencies not being held accountable for their actions.
Similarly, we will not come to a solution overnight.
It will take a serious bipartisan effort to move the ball forward to address this problem.
Throughout this Congress, the goal of our Subcommittee has been to unify and lead an effort to advance meaningful regulatory reform in Congress.
We must make certain the regulatory process reflects transparency and sound science and is based on a realistic economic foundation and meaningful public participation that considers the multitude of facets of the U.S. economy.
With an ally in the White House next year who has committed to reducing burdensome regulations, I plan to continue this effort throughout the next Congress and beyond.
The success of the U.S. economy and the creation of American jobs depends on Congress making a concerted effort to take back their authority and reign in the rulemaking process.
Thank you, Madam/Mr. President, I yield the floor and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
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