Planet Gore

Barbara Boxer Blocks John Cornyn from EPA Hearing

Over at the Dallas Morning News, Dave Michaels reports that the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.), has blocked Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) from a hearing on new EPA air regulations:

Cornyn is not a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Republicans claim Boxer has allowed fellow Democrats who aren’t members of the committee to participate at such hearings in the past when they affected a senator’s state. A Democratic committee aide says those hearings addressed purely regional issues, whereas tomorrow’s deals with a new regulation that will affect 31 states.

That pending EPA regulation would further restrict coal-fired power plants’ emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. The EPA didn’t include Texas in this rule when it was proposed in Aug. 2010. However, the agency later announced that Texas’ plan for controlling downwind pollution from its coal-fired power plans was inadequate.

After that finding, the EPA indicated that it could include Texas in the new regulation, known as the Clean Air Transport Rule, according to a recent letter from 24 Texas Republicans to the White House. The requirements could force Texas utilities to temporarily shut down coal-fired generating plants, according to Republican lawmakers.

The chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is scheduled to testify at tomorrow’s hearing. Republicans say Cornyn wants to ask questions of Bryan Shaw and the EPA witness, Asst. Administrator Gina McCarthy. But Cornyn has been told he’ll only be able to introduce Shaw and submit a written statement.

“Senator Cornyn is concerned that the issues addressed in tomorrow’s hearing will have enormous impacts on his state,” wrote Sen. James Inhofe, R-OK., the top Republican on the committee. “If Texas is required to comply, the state could be faced with a large number of plant retirements, thousands of lost jobs, and significantly higher energy costs.”

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