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Pallone’s Remarks at Environment Subcommittee Markup

Jun 15, 2017
Press Release
“I am deeply concerned that we have not received testimony from the Administration on any of these proposals.”

Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr.’s (D-NJ) opening remarks as prepared for an Environment Subcommittee Markup of: H.R. 806, the “Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017;” H.R. __, the “Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017;” H.R. __, the “Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act of 2017” are enclosed below:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I’d like to begin by joining my colleagues in sending my thoughts and prayers to our Committee colleague, Congressman Scalise, his family and his staff.  It was a horrific attack yesterday, but I’m so grateful for the heroic efforts of the Capitol Police who saved so many lives.  We’re keeping everyone who was impacted by this tragic event in our thoughts and prayers today, including some of our colleagues on this committee who were on that field yesterday.  The game will go on tonight, and so too will this subcommittee markup this morning. 

At the outset, I want to stress one concern that touches all of the bills this Subcommittee will mark up today.  First, I am deeply concerned that we have not received testimony from the Administration on any of these proposals.  We do not know how the Agencies that would implement these programs would interpret the language in these bills.  We are being asked to vote on legislation without the opportunity to fully understand its effects and potential unintended consequences.  This is a bad precedent.  Earlier this week, Ranking Member Tonko and I wrote the Chairmen to ask them to postpone this markup. I am disappointed that they have chosen to move ahead today.

I now want to turn briefly to each of the bills we will consider, beginning with H.R. 806, a compilation of misguided proposals that weaken or delay vital safeguards in the Clean Air Act.

This legislation puts the public health and safety of the American people at risk, and virtually guarantees that people living in areas with poor air quality will continue to breathe unhealthy air indefinitely.  I opposed this bill in the last Congress, and I continue to oppose it now. 

The Brownfields bill, in contrast, shows that we can work together in a bipartisan fashion to protect the environment and revitalize local economies.  I appreciate the efforts by Mr. Shimkus and the Committee staff to work with us to craft a bill that can become law.  This is a compromise bill, and I would have liked to see more funding included.  But it is a good bill to reauthorize an important program, and I am happy to support it.

The final bill is the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act.  With more and more nuclear power reactors scheduled to shut down in the coming years surrounding communities are realizing that the nuclear waste currently stored at these sites could be stored there indefinitely when the plant closes.

We need interim storage solutions to bridge the gap until a permanent repository is licensed and constructed.  I commend Chairman Shimkus for producing the draft before us, but I worry that it does little to move interim storage forward and may even unintentionally hinder this mutually-desired goal by explicitly linking it to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision on a permanent repository

I also have a specific concern with section 202 of the discussion draft, which undermines the State of Nevada’s water rights.

My concerns aside, I do appreciate having a proposal from the Chairman.  We must address the storage and disposal of our nation’s spent nuclear fuel and I hope that we can come to agreement on a strong bipartisan product to report by the time the full Committee considers the legislation.

I yield back.

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