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Jared P.
Democrat CO 2

About Rep. Jared
  • Providing for Consideration of H.R. 4557, Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns Act of 2016, and Providing for Proceedings During the Period from March 4, 2016, Through March 11, 2016

    by Representative Jared Polis

    Posted on 2016-03-03

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    Read More about Providing for Consideration of H.R. 4557, Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns Act of 2016, and Providing for Proceedings During the Period from March 4, 2016, Through March 11, 2016

    POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to the rule and the underlying bill. The Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns Act--certainly, a mouthful to say--is yet another of the endless list of attempts by this body--and it will not become law--to block implementation of an administrative rule or regulation that some people don't like, rather than tackling the issues that this country cares about and that I hear from voters back home when I have townhall meetings or I am at the grocery store.

    I hear about fixing our broken immigration system and securing our border. I hear about balancing the budget deficit. I hear about making sure that Medicare and Social Security are solvent and there for the next generation. I hear about making sure we create jobs, that housing is affordable, and that our roads and bridges are safe so traffic can flow safely and quickly.

    Yet, here we are again, spending an entire legislative day debating a bill that won't become law, which you will certainly hear about over the next couple of hours, regarding a series of regulations around brick kilns.

    Once again the Republicans are approaching a complex rulemaking process with a knee-jerk reaction in a nontransparent process with a closed rule, not even allowing a debate for a single amendment.

    Not only is this bill not transparent and not necessary, in this particular case, it sets a bad precedent because the courts already have the authority to issue a stay of compliance on a final rule.

    As we saw through the recent delay of the Clean Power Plan, our judicial and legislative systems are separate for a reason.

    Let the courts do their work and let us do ours. Let us not preempt the courts from their normal process. Our judicial and legislative systems are separate. Individuals, organizations, and companies have plenty of recourse and options through the court system to address this matter.

    The floor of the House is not the place to be requesting a stay. If there was something done that was illegal or wrong, the place to request a stay is the courtroom.

    But time and time again legislation like this has come to this floor, disposing of the judicial process and shortcutting the justice system that we have to delay a rule until all legal challenges are completed, which effectively means that frivolous lawsuits can jam up the rule indefinitely and forever.

    Over the past 45 years, it is proven that clean air regulations are important to protect the public health and consistent with growing a strong economy.

    Of course, I understand the pressure requirements placed on brick and clay ceramic makers. They have legitimate reasons to provide input to question or contest the rule.

    The judicial avenue is and will be available to them. That is the appropriate venue to request a stay, not the floor of the House of Representatives.

    There are several brick and clay companies in my State of Colorado, such as the Summit Brick & Tile Company in Pueblo, Colorado. I know these companies updated and changed their industry after the 2004 rule.

    But, unfortunately, like so many rules under the administration of George Bush, the rule is written so poorly that it was vacated by the courts in 2007, which means there is no rule under the authority of the Clean Air Act, which this Congress has made the law of the land, that sets standards for eliminating air pollution in this industry. Not only is that unacceptable, but, of course, it needs to be rectified urgently.

    There is nothing special about brick kilns. Like anything else, of course, they affect air quality. I have a picture of what we are talking about here.

    Of course, like any other economic activity that creates issues regarding air quality, we need a nuanced and thoughtful rule that ensures that the economic activity continues, subject to maintaining the public health.

    In fact, the EPA has a responsibility under section 112 of the Clean Air Act to control pollution from stationary sources of pollution, like brick kilns.

    Let me repeat that. The EPA was actually required by Congress to implement a rule that covers this industry because, according to the judiciary, President Bush enacted the rule incorrectly.

    If Congress wants to get at the underlying statutes, let's have that debate. Let's talk about what the EPA should and shouldn't do.

    I believe that we should close down loopholes that exempt fracking from regulation under the Clean Air Act. We have a series of bills that would do that--the BREATHE Act and the FRESHER Act--to ensure that the small site exemption does not occur, does not exist with regard to fracking activities that, in the aggregate, can have a considerable impact on air quality.

    We have seen areas of our State and our neighboring State of Wyoming have worse air quality than downtown Los Angeles because of the extraction and fracking-related activity, which is largely exempt from the clean air law.

    That is the debate I would be happy to have. Let's debate the appropriate jurisdiction of the EPA. If there is something we got wrong in that with regard to brick kilns and their authority or responsibility, that is the place to have the debate.

    {time} 0930 It is not to give an indefinite stay to simply implement what is the law of the land and the will of Congress, which is the EPA's responsibility.

    Congress has told the EPA, through the Clean Air Act, that they have the responsibility under section 112 to control pollution from stationary sources of pollution. They tried to do it under President Bush. It was tossed out by the courts because it was improperly constructed, and they are doing their job.

    Yet, Congress is trying to use something that is normally a judicial procedure, a stay, to get around the very [[Page H1123]] mandate that Congress gave the Environmental Protection Agency. So it is simply the wrong way to go about it.

    Brick and clay plants, if left unregulated, which is why they are covered under the Clean Air Act, can be major sources of toxic air pollutants, like hydrogen fluoride, hydrogen chloride, and hazardous metal, heavy metal pollutants that can endanger people with everything from asthma to cancer.

    Now, I don't know about you, but I would rather have my children running around a playground of a town where plants that put out hazardous pollutants are regulated in a thoughtful and responsible way, which is what this rule attempts to do.

    That is why opponents of this legislation include the Center for Biological Diversity, League of Conservation Voters, League of Women Voters, National Resource Development Council, the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

    All of these experts understand that, for 15 years, Congress has expected air pollution from these facilities to be covered by the Clean Air Act standards, and that delaying the process further is irresponsible, prevents the EPA from doing their mandate that Congress has given them, sets a dangerous public health precedent, and will endanger lives of American citizens.

    Not only is this a treacherous pattern but, again, it is a waste of time. This bill won't become law. It came out of committee on a party- line vote. The majority knows that, even in the off chance that the Senate were to consider this legislation, which I highly doubt, the President would veto the bill.

    It was indicated in the Statement of Administration Policy that I will include in the Record, Mr. Speaker, which reads, in part, H.R. 4557 would create ``an incentive for parties to litigate this rulemaking and the related corrections notice for as long as possible in order to delay air pollution reductions.'' Statement of Administration Policy H.R. 4557--Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns Act of 2016--Rep. Bill Johnson, R-OH, and seven cosponsors The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 4557, which could extend indefinitely deadlines for the brick and structural clay industry to limit mercury and other hazardous air pollution. Specifically, H.R. 4557 would extend compliance deadlines for the Brick and Structural Clay National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants until all litigation on the final rule is complete, thereby creating an incentive for parties to litigate the rulemaking and the related corrections notice for as long as possible in order to delay air pollution reductions. In the meantime, H.R. 4557 would undermine the public health protections of the Clean Air Act (CAA) by allowing further emissions of approximately 30 tons per month of toxic air pollution from brick and clay products production facilities. These toxic emissions include mercury, gases, and other hazardous metals which are associated with a variety of acute and chronic health effects, including cancers.

    The CAA required the Environmental Protection Agency to finalize pollution standards for toxic air pollution from all industrial sectors by 2000. Since then, sources in many other sectors have been complying with standards that limit their emissions of cancer-causing toxic air pollutants. The subject rule reflects CAA requirements while providing flexible compliance options and the maximum time allowed by law for compliance. It also makes distinctions between requirements for small and large kilns in order to reduce the impacts on small businesses.

    Since its enactment in 1970, and subsequent amendment in 1977 and 1990--each time with strong bipartisan support--the CAA has improved the Nation's air quality and protected public health. Over that same period of time, the economy has grown over 200 percent while emissions of key pollutants have decreased nearly 70 percent. Forty-five years of clean air regulation have shown that a strong economy and strong environmental and public health protection go hand-in-hand.

    Because H.R. 4557 threatens the health of Americans by allowing more toxic air pollution, if the President were presented with H.R. 4557, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

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