EPW Business Meeting Statement

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a business meeting to consider a number of legislative items, including S.2800, “America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018,” and S.2602, the “Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies (USE IT) Act.” Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:

“Mr. Chairman, we have a number of items on the agenda for our business meeting, including several important bipartisan pieces of legislation. With respect to the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, once again, my thanks to you Mr. Chairman. I also want to extend my thanks to our colleagues, Senator Inhofe and Senator Cardin, and your staffs for working with us on this important authorizing legislation for the Corps of Engineers. I am proud of the bipartisan work we have done together on this legislation, and I hope it will serve as a model for work that we – along with other committees – can do together in the future to address our nation’s infrastructure needs even more broadly. 

“This bill is of great importance to Delaware’s economy, but I know that the First State’s reliance on the Corps’ work is not unique. Over 99 percent of U.S. overseas trade volume moves through coastal channels that the Corps maintains. The Corps’ inland waterways and locks form a freight network that provides access to international markets through our ports. They also serve as critical infrastructure for the U.S. military. Our bill authorizes investments in this system in multiple ways. Most notably, at the request of Secretary James and of many senators both on and off of this committee, the bill better positions the Corps to be an active partner with ports, communities, states, tribes and other stakeholders in growing and expanding our nation’s economy. 

“I’d also like to take a minute or two here and say a few words about the substitute amendment for S. 2602, the Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies Act, or USE IT Act. I have added my name as a cosponsor of the substitute of which our Chairman is the sponsor. As I said during the legislative hearing for S.2602, I appreciate the Chairman’s focus on solutions to climate change when it comes to carbon capture, utilization and sequestration, also known as CCUS. I have long believed that the wide deployment of CCUS technologies could reduce climate pollution emissions in this country and abroad, while providing a real win-win for coal communities, for manufacturing and for our climate. That’s why, for over a decade, I have supported – and in some cases led – efforts that spur the development of CCUS without weakening environmental and public health protections.

“At the legislative hearing, I applauded the underlying efforts of the legislation, but also voiced several concerns. I was mainly concerned that the legislation could open the door for weaker environmental protections and unnecessary streamlining measures. Since the hearing, staff from the offices of the Chairman, Senator Whitehouse and other cosponsors have worked closely with my staff to try to address my concerns. I want to especially thank the Chairman’s staff for their hard work on this issue. The substitute that is before us today is a reflection of that hard work, and I believe it represents a good compromise.

“Some of the key changes we are making today include:

•    Requiring EPA to consult with the Department of Energy on CCUS research to avoid duplication and enhance coordination between the agencies;

•    Requiring a robust report from the Council on Environmental Quality that will provide critical information about the CCUS federal permitting process for anyone thinking of starting a CCUS project, as well as information about possible regulatory gaps needed for CCUS; and,

•    Adding additional environmental guardrails and a public notice and comment period for any guidance produced by CEQ regarding the permitting process.

“I suspect that the Chairman would probably agree that this substitute is not a bill either one of us would have written on our own; however, if we are ever going to truly address big issues like climate change, we are going to have to find compromises that can work for both parties. With these changes in the substitute, and with the assurances from the Chairman that this legislation will not be used as a vehicle to attack the Clean Air Act, I will be voting yes.

I realize that we have some additional important work to do in order to move these two bills across the finish line, but today is a very important first step. If we continue to work in a bipartisan fashion, I believe we will enact these bills into law this year, and our country will be better for it. So let’s get on with it, and as we do, let me express once again my heartfelt thanks to the members of our staffs who have worked hard and constructively to bring us this far today.”