Release Date: Jun 01, 2012Contact: 888-249-NEWS
U.S. Chamber’s Energy Institute CEO Warns That EPA Overreach Could Threaten U.S. Economy
Spruce Mine Case Demonstrates Disregard for the Rule of Law
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy told a Congressional committee that the actions taken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the Spruce Mine case threaten the foundation of the American economy and could result in massive job losses.
Appearing before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Minerals Resources, Karen Harbert testified that the outcome of a legal challenge to the EPA’s decision to retroactively revoke a previously-approved permit will signal whether America is open for business and is a safe bet for long term investment. A federal judge has ruled against the EPA in the Spruce Mine case, but the Administration has indicated that it will appeal the decision.
“The discussion about the Spruce Mine case is not about mining, or whether coal should be part of our energy mix. Rather, it is about the rule of law, and whether America is reliable place for investors. That’s why this case has such broad implications,” said Harbert.
Harbert explained that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues approximately 60,000 permits every year to projects of all types, and that over $220 billion of investment is conditioned on the issuance of permits every year. In the Spruce Mine case, the Army Corps issued a permit eight years after it was first requested, but two years later—after investment had already taken place—the EPA took the unprecedented action of revoking the lawful permit even after the agency had signed off on the permit before it was issued.
“If our entire nation were to adopt the stance taken by the EPA in the Spruce Mine case, commerce as we know it would ground to a halt,” said Harbert. “Hundreds of businesses would be questioning if they too could have their permits retroactively rejected. New investments would dry up, because there would be no way to accurately calculate risks associated with a regulatory agency that can arbitrarily change its mind midstream.”
Harbert told the subcommittee that according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, the U.S. is continuing to slide as an attractive investment destination, and now holds fifth place. The report cites a reduction in the transparency of government policymaking and an increase in burdensome regulations as factors in the decline.
“Businesses are not asking for no regulations, they are asking for transparent and enduring regulations upon which they can make decisions and investments against a backdrop of certainty,” said Harbert. “Without confidence in our process, capital will go elsewhere, and that only undermines our competitiveness and our ability to put Americans back to work.”
At the onset of this case, the EPA sought to silence its critics—including the Chamber—by objecting to the very filing of its legal brief, a position rejected by the judge. Despite unusually harsh rhetoric against the EPA in the federal court decision, in which the court called the EPA’s interpretation “illogical and impractical,” referred to its logic as “magical thinking,” and noted that “it is unreasonable to sow a lack of certainty into a system that was expressly intended to provide finality,” the EPA is continuing to spend taxpayer resources pursuing an appeal.
The mission of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy is to unify policymakers, regulators, business leaders, and the American public behind a common sense energy strategy to help keep America secure, prosperous, and clean. Through policy development, education, and advocacy, the Institute is building support for meaningful action at the local, state, national, and international levels.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.