Press Release

#SubEnvironment Takes a Look at Modernizing Environmental Laws


Walden: “We can join the twin engines of modern science and common sense and produce better public health and a better economy”

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Environment, chaired by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), today held a hearing examining challenges and opportunities for expanding infrastructure, economic redevelopment, and manufacturing through the modernization of certain environmental laws that fall under the subcommittee’s jurisdiction, including the Clean Air Act and the Brownfields provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.

“The topic today reflects what is going to be one of the themes of our legislative work this Congress,” said Chairman Shimkus. “And that is to identify the best ways to modernize the statutes within our jurisdiction in ways that deliver effective, environmental protections and remove unnecessary barriers to expand economic opportunity in communities around the nation.” 

Witnesses Set to Testify at Today’s #SubEnvironment Hearing

Ross Eisenberg, Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers, urged members to update our environmental laws, stating, “These statutes were written four to five decades ago, and their drafters could not possibly have envisioned how best to tackle the environmental challenges of the 21st century. As a result, regulators are increasingly unable to adapt stringent programs to the progress that has been made and easily reshape them on their own to confront new environmental challenges.”

Mayor Jonathan Mitchell of New Bedford, Massachusetts, spoke to the importance of Brownfields redevelopment, commenting, “Brownfields redevelopment is a win-win for everyone involved. It creates jobs, it cleans up the environment, and it’s pro-business and pro-community. The reauthorization of this law should be a top priority for this Congress and I urge you to pass a reauthorization bill and appropriate the necessary funds to jump start the development in communities throughout the nation.”

Thomas Sullivan, Vice President of Small Business Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, discussed the importance of soliciting the input of small businesses when it comes to rulemaking at the federal level. Mr. Sullivan stated, “Whether it is reauthorizing a new law, creating a new agency, or when agencies craft new regulations, government is well advised to solicit input and work with small businesses to devise solutions that maximize the law’s or regulation’s benefits and minimize harmful economic impact.”

Kevin Sunday, Director of Government Affairs at the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, stated, “Air quality issues present a particular challenge for industry. The current construct under the Clean Air Act unnecessarily inhibits investment and expansion of facilities. Hundreds, if not thousands, of man-hours and untold sums of capital are required to secure initial permits and ensure on-going compliance, consuming an ever-increasing share of companies’ budgets that could otherwise be spent in expanding the workforce or investing in research and development.”

“We have enormous opportunities to make meaningful improvements in our environmental laws and regulations. We can join the twin engines of modern science and common sense and produce better public health and a better economy,” said full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR). “To begin delivering clear results, we must craft policies that will expand our infrastructure and help accelerate innovation and investment and spur manufacturing growth. Doing this will ultimately benefit American consumers.” 

Subcommittee Chairman Shimkus Shares a Laugh Ahead of Today’s Hearing

Subcommittee Chairman Shimkus concluded, “And so as we look at how to modernize environmental laws we should always keep in mind the intangible good that comes from enabling people to have the economic wherewithal to live healthier and safer lives. … In today’s modern economy, it makes no sense that we cannot have more efficient permitting processes or more timely guidance from regulatory agencies.”

A background memo, witness testimony, and an archived webcast of today’s hearing can be found on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s website HERE.

For a summary and links to the committee’s Clean Air Act hearings, legislation, and oversight during the 112th-114th Congresses, click HERE


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