Posts Tagged ‘United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce’

Tell them that the testimony being given is based upon false premises and they should not vote for HR 2273 when the Committee hearing resumes at 3 pm EST.

According to the National Academy of Science (NAS) Coal Combustion Residues or waste (CCR’s) contain numerous hazardous metals and substances with hazardous characteristics including arsenic, lead, selenium, mercury, chlorides and sulfates. (The National Research Council (NRC), Managing Coal Combustion Residues in Mines, March 2006, pp. 27-57)

A recent report cites hexavalent chromium as another toxic by-product of CCR’s

These pollutants can cause cancer, birth defects, reproductive problems, damage to the nervous system and kidneys, and learning disabilities in children.  Similar to lye, CCR’s can be caustic enough to burn the skin on contact.  CCR’s can decimate fish, bird and amphibian populations by causing developmental problems such as tadpoles born without teeth, or fish with severe spinal deformities.  CCR’s have been associated with the deaths of livestock and wildlife.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a waste is “hazardous” if it leaches toxic chemicals, like arsenic or selenium, above a certain threshold when tested using the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP).

Using the TCLP, coal ash rarely exceeds this threshold.  The EPA’s Science Advisory Board and the National Academy of Sciences have determined that the TCLP does not accurately predict the toxicity of coal ash.

National Research Council, Managing Coal Combustion Residues in Mines, 2006, pages 150-152.  Also see U.S. EPA Science Advisory Board, Waste Leachability: The Need for Review of Current Agency Procedures, EPA-SAB-EEC-COM-99-002, Washington, DC, 1999, and Leachability Phenomena: Recommendations and Rationale for Analysis of Contaminant Release by the Environmental Engineering Committee, EPA-SAB-EEC-92-003, Washington, DC, 1991.

When EPA tests coal ash using the new, more accurate Leaching Environment Assessment Framework (LEAF), the resulting leachate can exceed by many times these hazardous waste thresholds.  For example, when tested with EPA’s new, more accurate test, coal ash leached arsenic at 1,800 times the federal drinking water standard and over 3 times the hazardous waste threshold. The new test revealed selenium leached from one coal ash 580 times the drinking water standard and 29 times the hazardous waste threshold.

U.S. EPA, Characterization of Coal Combustion Residues from Electric Utilities – Leaching and Characterization Data. EPA-600/R-09/151, Dec. 2009, http://www.epa.gov/nrmrl/pubs/600r09151/600r09151.html,  pages xii, xiv, 133, 135, 138 and 143.

U.S. EPA, Characterization of Coal Combustion Residues from Electric Utilities – Leaching and Characterization Data. EPA-600/R-09/151, Dec, 2009, http://www.epa.gov/nrmrl/pubs/600r09151/600r09151.html, page xiv, Table ES-2.

EPA’s 2010 risk assessment found the cancer risk from drinking water contaminated with arsenic from coal ash disposed in unlined ponds is as high as 1 in 50 adults, which is 2,000 times EPA’s regulatory goal for acceptable cancer risk.

U.S. EPA, Human and Ecological Risk Assessment of Coal Combustion Wastes, RIN 2050-AE81 April 2010, page 4-7.

In hearings today, members are providing information that minimizes the harm by coal ash waste.  Rep Green is holding that Coal Ash is only an impoundment issue, and Rep. McKinley has testified that all tests show Coal ash is not toxic using a chart that uses ONLY TCLP tests results when the National Academy of Science has twice determined that the TCLP is NOT accurate.   Further, Rep. McKinley has testified that EPA has twice “conclude” that coal ash is not toxic when the EPA stated that if new evidence is presented that shows evidence of damage that it will revisit the determination.

Can you call your legislators and explain that the testimony being given is based upon false premises.

US House Energy and Commerce Committee

Republican Members, 112th CongressCliff Stearns (FL)  202-225-5744       

Fred Upton (MI) 202-225-3761
Joe Barton (TX) 202-225-2002
Ed Whitfield (KY) 202-225-3115
John Shimkus (IL) 202-225-5271
Joseph R. Pitts (PA) 202-225-2411
Mary Bono Mack (CA) 202-225-5330
Greg Walden (OR) 202-225-6730
Lee Terry (NE) 202-225-4155
Mike Rogers (MI) 202-225-4872
Sue Myrick (NC) 202-225-1976
John Sullivan (OK) 202-225-2211
Tim Murphy (PA) 202-225-2301
Michael Burgess (TX) 202-225-7772
Marsha Blackburn (TN) 202-225-2811
Brian P. Bilbray (CA) 202-225-0508
Charles F. Bass (NH) 202-225-5206
Phil Gingrey (GA) 202-225-2931
Steve Scalise (LA) 202-225-3015
Bob Latta (OH) 202-225-5206
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA) 202-225-2006  
Gregg Harper (MS) 202-225-5031                 
Leonard Lance (NJ) 202-225-5361
Bill Cassidy (LA) 202-225-3901
Brett Guthrie (KY) 202-225-3501
Pete Olson (TX) 202-225-5951
David McKinley (WV) 202-225-4172            
Cory Gardner (CO) 202-225-4676
Mike Pompeo (KS) 202-225-6216
Adam Kinzinger (IL) 202-225-3635
Morgan Griffith (VA) 202-225-3861

Democrat Members, 112th CongressHenry A. Waxman (CA) 202-225-3976
John D. Dingell (MI) 202-225-4071
Edward J. Markey (MA) 202-225-2836
Edolphus Towns (NY) 202-225-5936
Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ) 202-225-4671
Bobby L. Rush (IL) 202-225-4372
Anna G. Eshoo (CA) 202-225-8104
Eliot L. Engel (NY) 202-225-2464
Gene Green (TX) 202-225-1688
Diana DeGette (CO) 202-225-4431
Lois Capps (CA) 202-225-3601
Michael F. Doyle (PA) 202-225-2135
Jan Schakowsky (IL) 202-225-2111
Charles A. Gonzalez (TX) 202-225-3236
Jay Inslee (WA) 202-225-6311
Tammy Baldwin (WI) 202-225-2906
Mike Ross (AR) 202-225-3772
Jim Matheson (UT) 202-225-3011
G. K. Butterfield (NC) 202-225-3101   
John Barrow (GA) 202-225-2823
Doris O. Matsui (CA) 202-225-7163 Kathy Castor (FL) 202-225-3376 Donna Christensen (VI)

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The Energy and Power Subcommittee of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee plans to hold a hearing this Thursday on the clash between Texas officials and the EPA at the South Texas College of Law in Houston.  Click here for more information.

A coalition called the Texas EPA Task Force, made up of federal and state Republican officials, is backing proposed federal legislation that would stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. They also strongly disagree with a December EPA ruling that said Texas’ flexible permitting program for air emissions is not in compliance with the act.  They will be at the hearing in force to push their agenda.

Environmentalists response to the Texas EPA Task Force is that for 40 years the EPA has been working to make sure Texans have cleaner air and better health, and call for the citizens of Texas to not let industry insiders and their friends in Congress get in the way.

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Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the panel’s Energy and Power subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, agreed to schedule a hearing next Tuesday on two new studies that link climate change to severe weather at the request of Democrats.

Full committee ranking Democrat Henry Waxman (Calif.) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), who chairs the subcommittee, along with eight other Democrats, sent a letter to Whitfield Tuesday requesting a hearing on climate science, as the Republicans on the committee are moving legislation forward that would permanently block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

Whitfield reluctantly agreed to hold the hearing Tuesday after Waxman criticized Republicans for not allowing more testimony from scientists at yesterday’s hearing, which boasted a witness list dominated by industry groups, while Republicans on the panel expressed frustration that Whitfield agreed to hold the hearing at the Democrats’ request.

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In a Republican dominated America with many Republicans deeply skeptical of global warming, it is unlikely the new Congress will do much on the energy front. A broad plan to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and use the revenue to fund alternative energy — known as cap-and-trade — is dead

Vyng for the leadership post of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce when the Republicans take the reins in January are four interesting contenders:

  • Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill, who last year, while quoting the Bible in a House hearing said, “The earth will end only when God decides it’s time to be over. ‘This earth will not be destroyed by a flood.'”
  • Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who apologized to BP for what he called a White House “shakedown” when it agreed to establishing the $20 billion Gulf oil spill trust fund;
  • Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida, who wants to open up Alaska’s wildlife refuge to drilling; and
  • Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan who is considered the front-runner and probably the most moderate of the bunch.  He has vowed to eliminate an offshoot of the committee, the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and wrote in a recent editorial, “The American people do not need Congress to spend millions of dollars to write reports and fly around the world.  We must terminate this wasteful committee.”

There is one thing the newly empowered Republicans are sure to go after: the Environmental Protection Agency.

Over the past year, the EPA (after classifing greenhouse gases as a public health threat and then being under court order to do so after losing a Supreme Court challenge by the state of Massachusetts while under the Bush administration) has been quietly working on the sidelines to draft up rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Heavily targeted would be power plants, refineries, and heavy industries such as steel and concrete.

Republican lawmakers have made their intent clear and we can expect them to push for  more oversight of the EPA.  Even going as far as to try to pass legislation to limit the EPA’s authority.

Just last week, EPA issued guidelines for greenhouse gas emissions that will take effect this January. The guidelines were not particularly strict, which analysts took as a sign that the agency was willing to work with industry, but also as a sign that it plans on pressing ahead with its plan to regulate these gases

It seems that dealing with EPA is becoming a reality and Republican efforts to reign them in could get ugly.

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According to Bloomberg, electricity producers such as NRG Energy Inc. and Southern Co. will benefit as the new house Republican majority promotes nuclear power as part of clean-energy legislation.  They go on to point out that cap-and-trade was denounced in ads by candidates of both parties, and they expect a fight over plans by the Environmental Protection Agency to impose its own restrictions on carbon emissions.

They also anticipate that renewable-energy legislation next year would encourage construction of nuclear and “clean- coal” plants.

For those close to the Barnett Shale, House Republicans will probably resist efforts to limit hydraulic fracturing, a technique used in drilling for natural gas in which chemically treated water is pumped underground to loosen rock and let gas flow, and a process that has been of significant concern to Texans in the Dallas-Fort Worth air shed.  The EPA is currently conducting a study of potential environmental impacts of the practice.

The Republican takeover of the House also puts Representative Doc Hastings of Washington state, an opponent of new restrictions on offshore oil and gas drilling, in line to take over the Natural Resources Committee. Hastings denounced a measure, that would have removed a $75 million cap on liability for leaks, and would bar BP (the company responsible for the Gulf of Mexico deep water oil spill off the coast of Louisiana) from new U.S. leases.

I’m sure you can see where this could be taking U.S. energy and environmental policy.  If you are concerned, consider making a donation to Public Citizen as we head into a new political era.

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