Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Outlines Key Legislative Priorities

February 9, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - Environment and Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) met with reporters recently to outline a 2012 agenda for the subcommittee that focuses on protecting the American people, creating jobs, eliminating government waste. The agenda includes:
 
Protecting our Nuclear Future
A thriving nuclear energy sector remains critical to meeting our nation's growing energy needs, but this administration's mismanagement of our nuclear waste program is threatening this vital industry. The administration's premature closure of the Yucca Mountain waste repository, and recent revelations about Nuclear Regulator Chairman Gegory Jaczcko's abusive management style, demonstrate a program that is plagued with politics and wrought with turmoil. To help ensure the safety and sustainability of America's long-term nuclear future, the subcommittee will continue its oversight of the NRC and its investigation into the administration's unlawful termination of Yucca Mountain.

"The Illinois Republican said Wednesday that his House Energy and Commerce Committee subpanel will keep pressuring the commission on the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository and the damning critiques of NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko's management style. "˜We are concerned about the NRC and its ability to operate and do the job that it's required to do under statute, which is - it is a dysfunctional agency.'" - Politico

Eliminating Government Waste
Local communities and businesses are forced to shell out millions of dollars each year to comply with complex and burdensome EPA regulations. Shimkus believes there are several common-sense reforms we could make to environmental programs to eliminate unnecessary and costly reporting requirements and save taxpayer dollars. He suggested one area where the House can be successful in this arena is with e-manifest legislation and said the subcommittee hopes to put forward legislation to transition the waste reporting program to an electronic system. Between 2.5 million and 5 million manifests are tracked annually at a cost between $200 million and $500 million per year. Modernizing the system and eliminating the need for paperwork could save $100 million a year. Shimkus also said he wants to hold a series of hearings to review EPA's Superfund program to identify areas for improvement.

"Hazardous waste is an area where Shimkus may be able to win bipartisan support this year. He said one "˜easy' piece of legislation he wants to move is a bill that would modernize how EPA tracks hazardous waste." -E&E News

"He said he hopes to hold "˜generic hearings' on Superfund, a program for cleaning up toxic waste sites, and the definition of solid waste for purposes of recycling. "˜We should be able to do things quicker than we do, and if we do it quicker, it saves money.'" -CQ

Protecting Jobs and Promoting Domestic Energy
Shimkus welcomed the president's calls for an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy in this year's State of the Union address, but the chairman said he remains unconvinced the president will do much to promote domestic production given his administration's track record of anti-energy policies. EPA has issued controversial preliminary findings suggesting groundwater contamination related to hydraulic fracturing despite the fact that fracking has been safely used to extract gas for over 60 years with no demonstrated record of environmental hazard. Ensuring that both Congress and the public have access to accurate information about the safety of hydraulic fracturing is essential, Shimkus argued. The subcommittee will continue to monitor the safety of the industry and the specter of EPA regulations to ensure America's natural gas resources are developed safely and economically, and that this burgeoning industry remains a driver of job creation and economic growth.

""˜I think there is an opening now if EPA starts meddling' said John Shimkus, R-Ill., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Environment and the Economy Subcommittee. "˜I would say that might be in opposition to presidential policies on the benefits of natural gas exploration and use.'" - National Journal