Former Obama DOE Official Set to Critique ‘Stupid Regulations’
Via E&E Publishing:
A former Obama administration official plans this week to tell lawmakers that the Clean Power Plan is “ideological mumbo jumbo” and that the government would be better off investing more money into clean energy and fossil fuel technologies.
Charles McConnell, who was responsible for the Department of Energy’s fossil fuels program, will testify Thursday in front of the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Environment.
He’ll appear alongside Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R), who is challenging the Clean Power Plan in court, and Constitutional Accountability Center Chief Counsel Brianne Gorod, who represents more than 200 lawmakers who are in favor of the program.
At DOE, McConnell oversaw the budgets and policy strategy of programs in oil, natural gas, coal and advanced technologies.
In an interview Friday previewing his testimony, McConnell said he will tell the panel, which is chaired by a climate change doubter, Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), that he believes in man-made climate change and climate regulations.
But, McConnell said, U.S. EPA’s program for cutting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants would not measurably address global warming and the Obama administration is “disingenuous” for making it the cornerstone of its environmental agenda.
“I’m going to come right out of the box very quickly by not denying climate change. I believe that the climate’s changing,” McConnell said. “I think it’s fundamentally important to look at carbon dioxide as a forcing function of climate change.
“Those two things being said,” he continued, “and the fact that I believe CO2 regulation is important, my punctuation mark is this Clean Power Plan does not relevantly or impactfully affect global CO2 emissions.”
While EPA has acknowledged that the Clean Power Plan itself won’t have a big impact on global climate change, the agency has promoted it as part of a larger strategy and key to getting nations on board with the Paris climate agreement.
Along with furnishing a chart showing the Clean Power Plan’s small impact on global greenhouse gas emissions, McConnell also plans to testify that the Clean Power Plan is illegal and an abuse of EPA’s authority.
EPA, he alleged, is trying to force a federal renewable fuel standard onto the country and is pushing wind and solar energy to the detriment of research on fossil fuel technologies such as carbon capture, utilization and storage.
“I’m not against climate regulations, nor am I against being concerned about the environment, but I am against stupid regulations,” he said. “And I’m against an administration that would call for an all-of-the-above strategy and not put their money where their mouth is.”
The United States, he said, should seek to lead “the Chinas and Indias of the world” in researching and advancing technologies to make burning fossil fuels cleaner.
At DOE, McConnell said, he was disappointed at the lack of coordination between the department and EPA on energy technologies. He said he sensed a disconnect between EPA’s vision for regulations and the ability of technologies to achieve climate goals.
“EPA seems to be relying on the technology fairy to come in and sprinkle dust over this stuff and have it perform the way they want it to,” he said.
The hearing comes as the Clean Power Plan remains frozen by the Supreme Court until the resolution of complex litigation. Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unexpectedly delayed arguments in the case until September before the full court instead of the typical three-judge panel (Greenwire, May 17).
Gorod of the Constitutional Accountability Center plans to defend the Clean Power Plan’s legality at the hearing. She is representing 208 current and former members of Congress from 38 states — mostly Democrats — who last month filed a “friend of the court” brief in support of EPA’s authority to issue the plan (Greenwire, April 1).
“I’ll explain that the Clean Power Plan is a lawful exercise of the discretion that Congress conferred on EPA when it enacted and substantially amended the Clean Air Act,” she said in an interview Friday.
The Constitutional Accountability Center promotes a progressive reading of the Constitution and has previously represented lawmakers in litigation over President Obama’s health care plan. Gorod will be the Democratic minority’s witness at the hearing.
She said her testimony will also focus on the state authority under the Clean Power Plan.
“This idea that the Clean Power Plan somehow intrudes on state authority,” Gorod said, “I think it’s very clear when you actually look at the rule, when you look at the Clean Power Plan, it actually accords states due respect.”
Schedule: The hearing is Thursday, May 26, at 9:30 a.m. in 2318 Rayburn.
Witnesses: Scott Pruitt, attorney general of Oklahoma; Brianne Gorod, chief counsel of the Constitutional Accountability Center; and Charles McConnell, executive director of Rice University’s Energy and Environment Initiative.
See the article here.
- On May 24, 2016