Environment, Manufacturing, & Critical Materials Updates

Chair Rodgers Opening Remarks at Legislative Hearing on Revitalizing Communities through the Brownfields Program

Washington D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) delivered the following opening remarks at today’s Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials Subcommittee legislative hearing on reauthorizing the Brownfields program to improve communities with more economic development, increase local tax bases, and create jobs all over the country. “Today, we are examining the EPA’s Brownfields program. This program was authorized under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980. It is commonly referred to as either CERCLA or ‘Superfund.’ “A Brownfields site, as many of you know, is an abandoned or underutilized property with known or suspected contamination. “The risk of legal liability for existing contamination can discourage interested buyers from purchasing the property for redevelopment due to threats of litigation. “This can rob communities of vital economic development opportunities. “The Brownfields statute provides liability defenses for landowners and potential purchasers and authorizes grants to encourage environmental assessment cleanups. “This program can rejuvenate existing property and infrastructure, take development pressures off of undeveloped land, and it improves the environment. “All of this increases local tax bases and creates jobs for Americans across the country.” PROVEN SUCCESS “The Brownfields program has been successful in removing barriers to investment and economic development, while also addressing environmental contamination. “Since 2002, the EPA Brownfields program has cleaned up 2,260 properties, revitalized 10,400 properties for reuse, created more than 270,500 jobs, and resulted in nearly $40 billion in investment. “This has translated into numerous success stories. “There is Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas – home of the Houston Astros. Since 2000, the ballpark holds more than 41,000 fans for its 81 home games each season.  “Minute Maid Park has hosted games in three of the last seven World Series, including in 2021, when the three World Series games generated more than $25 million for Houston.  “The park also frequently hosts concerts and other major events to bring the Houston community together.  “Then there is the Georgia Sea Turtle Center at Jekyll Island, Georgia.    “This 5,500 square foot facility includes an exhibit area, visitor space, and a veterinary clinic.  “Jekyll Island – where the turtle center is located – receives more than three million visitors per year.  “And looking closer to my home, there is the University District in Spokane, Washington.   “The University District has five major universities and two medical school programs.   “The Health, Education, and Research Complex at the University District boasts some 90,000 enrolled students at eight regional universities.  “The University District also inspires economic development, such as Life Sciences Spokane, which supports the billion-dollar Intermountain Northwest health sciences sector.  “The Brownfields program has played a role in all these stories, improving the lives of Americans and bringing prosperity around the country.” REAUTHORIZING BROWNFIELDS “By reauthorizing the Brownfields program, we can build on these successes. “Brownfields extension has historically been a bipartisan goal for this committee. “And as an authorizing committee, one of our most important responsibilities are these regular reauthorizations, which help ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent responsibly and that programs like Brownfields are working and helping our communities. “Today’s hearing is an opportunity to review and, if possible, enhance the Brownfields program. “It’s a continuation of the regular order process that began last Congress. “This discussion draft is the next step, and as always, we encourage engagement from all members and stakeholders.” RESPONSIBILITY IN BROWNFIELDS “As we work this through the Committee process, and especially when considering the funding figures for the program, it’s important that we don’t neglect to remember just how much in taxpayer dollars was spent last Congress. “It is vital that we appropriate responsibly and allow for proper oversight to ensure accountability of these resources. “There are risks to dramatically increasing funding, including decreasing competition as well as quality among grant applicants. “We also need to make sure non-suburban communities, or those with less than 100,000 people, are benefitting from the program.” “We should continue the tradition of bipartisan action on this subject. “The Brownfields program continues to be an effective cleanup program with a purpose—encouraging economic growth and improving communities in places that have lacked investment. “Let’s stay focused on this goal, which has brought prosperity, revitalization, and opportunity to communities across the country.” 

Chair Johnson Opening Remarks at Legislative Hearing on Revitalizing Communities through the Brownfields Program

Washington D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials Subcommittee Chair Bill Johnson (R-OH) delivered the following opening remarks at today’s legislative hearing on reauthorizing the Brownfields program to improve communities with more economic development, increase local tax bases, and create jobs all over the country.  “This has long been a very bipartisan issue, so let me be clear at the outset. I want to continue that bipartisan work today. I look forward to working with my colleagues, both Democrat and Republican, on extending this important program to promote environmental cleanup and economic redevelopment across our country. “Our hearing today is timely, because the Brownfields Program formally expires this year. “Importantly, today’s hearing also reaffirms this Committee’s jurisdiction over the program and advances the reauthorization process through regular order. “I appreciate our witnesses for joining us today to shed light on how EPA’s Brownfields Program is currently working, identify opportunities for improvement, and find ways to monitor the progress of grant-funded projects, particularly since the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provided an unprecedented infusion of funding to the EPA for brownfields.” COMMUNITY REVITALIZATION   “The Brownfields Program provides critical grant funding and liability protections that allow states, communities, and stakeholders to clean up and redevelop previously contaminated sites. “I’m proud to have represented Eastern and Southeastern Ohio with its rich history of manufacturing and industrial development, and I have seen the significant benefits of brownfields investments in and around my own district. “For example, I mentioned this in our last brownfields hearing, the district lines have changed since 2020, but in May 2020 under the Trump administration, the EPA awarded $600,000 in Brownfields Program funding to clean up former industrial sites in Ironton and Coal Grove, in southern Ohio. “This was and continues to be a big deal for these rural, Appalachian communities with a proud history of manufacturing and industry along the Ohio River. “But also looking to Northeast Ohio, I was proud, just a couple years ago, to speak with local leaders and tour the, ‘Wick 6’ brownfields site in Youngstown, which also received a substantial grant from the EPA. “My friends, the point is that many of you have probably seen similar successes of these Brownfield grants in your districts. So, I believe we can build on recent successes of the Brownfields Program so communities all across America can benefit from the EPA’s dual environmental and economic investment.” PROPOSED IMPROVEMENTS “So the discussion draft we’re focusing on today includes five legislative tweaks to strengthen the Brownfields Program. “First, the draft creates the Rural Brownfields Showcase Program with grants for communities with populations less than 50,000 residents and less than 100,000 residents. “I represent several rural counties, as do many of our subcommittee members, and we strongly believe that the Rural Brownfields Showcase Program would ensure that these rural communities are not left behind. “In addition, oversight of brownfields is incredibly important, and the discussion draft outlines unique roles for EPA and EPA’s Office of Inspector General to conduct internal audits to ensure that federal funds are awarded properly. “Simply increasing overall funding levels for brownfields without carefully crafted oversight mechanisms could lead to lower quality projects, not to mention waste, fraud, and abuse. “The draft also increases the involvement of local governing officials by adding local concurrence as a condition of EPA awards.” MAXIMIZING BENEFITS OF BROWNFIELDS PROGRAM “Furthermore, the discussion draft allows private, for-profit limited liability partnerships whose application has the backing of the local government, a State sanctioned redevelopment agency, or a non-profit to receive grants under the Brownfields Program. “If we’re looking to stretch federal dollars to the fullest, we should include these relevant stakeholders in the process. “Finally, the draft authorizes appropriations for five years, through fiscal year 2028, providing necessary certainty to the program to encourage more investment and economic development. “Of note, authorization amounts in the discussion draft are intentionally blank. “I have some concerns with permanently increasing grant amounts and waiving cost-sharing requirements, but I hope that today’s conversation and future conversations will allow us to reach a consensus. “I look forward to working with my Republican and Democratic colleagues, the EPA, state and local officials, and private-sector stakeholders…to help ensure that the Brownfields Program continues to bolster communities by funding environmental cleanup and economic redevelopment across the country.”

Chair Rodgers to Biden: “Tell American auto workers the truth—you're sending their jobs to China”

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) released the following statement ahead of President Biden’s planned appearance at the United Auto Workers picket line in Michigan today, criticizing the President for claiming to support auto workers while simultaneously pushing policies that will send their jobs—and cede American auto leadership—to China:  “President Biden claims to be an ally to auto workers. Yet his administration’s radical rush-to-green agenda is forcing higher and higher costs on the very cars that their livelihoods rely on. At the same time, the administration is trying to force Americans to transition to 100 percent electric vehicles, which will ultimately lead to more American auto jobs being lost to China. President Biden's picket sign today should be honest with auto workers and read: ‘I’m sending America’s auto future and your jobs to China.'   “Instead of handing China the keys to our auto future with President Biden’s divorced-from-reality agenda, we should be embracing the legacy of the American auto industry which, for more than a century, has helped drive America’s economic success, provided well-paying, reliable jobs, and raised the standard of living across the country. Let’s work to make sure America continues to lead the auto sector for the next 100 years while also bringing down carbon emissions.” 

Chair Rodgers Celebrates America’s Legacy in Clean Energy Leadership

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) kicks off National Clean Energy Week with a call to action to unleash clean, reliable American energy, which will make life more affordable for American families while making us less dependent on countries like China.   “We’re at a pivotal moment in our nation’s history. America has led the world in reducing carbon emissions through innovation and entrepreneurship. As a result, people across the country continue to have access to clean, affordable, reliable energy. And we’ve achieved this with some of the highest labor and environmental standards in the world. The Biden administration and Democrats, on the other hand, are taking steps to force an expensive energy transition. This transition is making life unaffordable across the board, undermining our grid reliability, and making us dangerously dependent on China.  “E&C Republicans are committed to maintaining America’s affordable, clean energy legacy, which is why we passed H.R. 1 earlier this year to improve people’s quality of life by restoring a strong energy mix of America’s abundant resources. This is the best way to flip the switch on American energy, bring down prices for families, and ensure we continue to be a global leader in reducing emissions and producing clean, affordable, and reliable energy.” 

Chair Rodgers Blasts Biden on Federal Mandate to Further Destroy American Energy and Hide the True Costs of a Rush-to-Green Agenda

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) blasted President Biden today following the administration’s decision to direct federal agencies to use "social cost of greenhouse gas emissions" ( SC-GHG) metrics more broadly. With this mandate, agencies will have the green light to apply these flawed metrics to decisions, including the purchase of goods and services, conducting environmental reviews, and penalizing American companies.  “President Biden’s relentless efforts to force an energy transition on American families is driving up costs across the board, threatening the security of people’s jobs and the reliability of their electricity, and making us more reliant on China. This announcement is not about reducing emissions—it's about asserting total control over people’s lives and livelihoods with deeply flawed metrics that benefit the administration’s political allies. The SC-GHG will enable the administration to disguise the true costs of its rush-to-green agenda on the American people. Vilifying American energy will not reduce emissions or make life more affordable for the hardworking people of this country.”  In Case You Missed It: In March 2022 , Chair Rodgers sent a letter, along with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), to EPA Administrator Michael Regan requesting transparency and information on EPA’s use of SC-GHG.  

POSTPONED: Chairs Rodgers and Johnson Postpone East Palestine Field Hearing on Derailment Cleanup Progress

Washington, D.C. — Due to changes in the House Floor schedule requiring Members be present to vote, the Energy and Commerce Committee has postponed its Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials Subcommittee field hearing in East Palestine, Ohio, titled “Life After the Train Derailment: Ensuring Transparency and Accountability for the People of East Palestine.”  WHAT: A field hearing to assess the cleanup progress and community needs following the February train derailment and chemical spill in East Palestine, Ohio.  STATUS: This hearing has been postponed due to changes in the House Floor schedule.  If you have any questions concerning the hearing, please contact Kaitlyn Peterson with the Committee staff at . For media inquiries, please reach out to Sean Kelly at .  

Chairs Rodgers & Johnson Announce Legislative Hearing on Revitalizing American Communities By Reauthorizing Brownfields Program

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials Subcommittee Chair Bill Johnson (R-OH) today announced a legislative hearing titled “Revitalizing American Communities: Ensuring the Reauthorization of EPA’s Brownfields Program.”  “EPA’s Brownfields program is critical to the cleanup and redevelopment of Brownfield sites across the country. By utilizing existing space and infrastructure, this program has taken development pressure off undeveloped land, helped increase local tax bases, and, most importantly, created jobs in communities across the country,” said Chairs Rodgers and Johnson . “We look forward to discussing reauthorizing the Brownfields program, which has enjoyed bipartisan support in the past. Members will hear from government officials and affected stakeholders about how to ensure the program’s long-term success.”  Subcommittee on Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials legislative hearing titled “Revitalizing American Communities: Ensuring the Reauthorization of EPA’s Brownfields Program.”  WHAT: Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials Subcommittee hearing on reauthorizing the EPA’s Brownfields Program.  DATE: Wednesday, September 27, 2023  TIME: 10:00 AM  LOCATION: 2123 Rayburn House Office Building  Legislation to be considered:  H.R.___ , The Revitalization Through Brownfields Act This notice is at the direction of the Chair. The hearing will be open to the public and press and will be live streamed online at . If you have any questions concerning the hearing, please contact Kaitlyn Peterson at . If you have any press-related questions, please contact Sean Kelly at .   

Chair Rodgers: “New EPA standards will devastate American manufacturing and jobs”

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) delivered the following remarks at today’s Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials Subcommittee hearing titled “Protecting American Manufacturing: Examining EPA’s Proposed PM2.5 Rule.”  Remarks as prepared for delivery:  BIDEN’S WAR ON PROSPERITY & OPPORTUNITY   “For decades, America has been the best place to do business, while also ensuring we have some of the highest environmental standards in the world.  "America has done more to lift people out of poverty and raise the standard of living than any other nation in the world. “That prosperity and opportunity is being threatened today.  “President Biden’s radical rush-to-green agenda is raising costs across the board.   “People are suffering, every time they go to fill up their tank with gas, feed their families, and keep the lights on.   “Now, the EPA is attempting to take this extreme agenda one step further by proposing unattainable standards on fine particulate matter – or PM 2.5.   “This comes after EPA had already concluded the current standards are protective of public health, and this will be devastating for American businesses, people’s livelihoods, and our economic leadership.”  EPA IS CRUSHING AMERICAN JOBS & THE ECONOMY   “As we will hear from witnesses, if EPA finalizes these unrealistic PM standards, there will be far-reaching consequences, including pushing us further to the brink of a recession.  “These standards will make it nearly impossible to build new manufacturing facilities, including for things like EVs and semiconductors.    “It will undermine the work to expand America’s manufacturing base, making it impossible to secure our supply chains and build products that people have come to rely on every day.   “The harm would extend to nearly every sector of our economy as well, like power, agriculture, construction, and forestry.   “Studies indicate this could jeopardize hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S. economic activity and millions of jobs.”   CURRENT STANDARDS ARE ENHANCING THE ENVIRONMENT   “The proposed standards could actually make it more difficult to protect people from harmful air pollutants, a fundamental responsibility of the EPA.   “By all measures, the nation’s air quality has improved dramatically since the Clean Air Act was signed into law, and the current standards are improving quality even more.    “Overall, emissions of pollutants regulated by air quality standards have dropped 73 percent since 1980.   “Air quality for this particular category today is more than 40 percent better than in 2000.  “All told, U.S. air quality is the best in the world, and it’s getting cleaner.  “Just three years ago, the EPA confirmed that the current standards for PM 2.5 were protective of public health, following a comprehensive review required by law.  “Despite this progress, the Biden EPA is taking steps to introduce these new, completely ‘divorced from reality’ standards.  “This will force investors and jobs out of the U.S. and benefit countries like China, the largest polluter in the world with the worst environmental standards. "It could make air quality even worse for many Americans, as the new limits would prevent the needed management to prevent wildfires, which cause a lot of the PM emissions.”   GRIDLOCK LOCAL INVESTMENTS & BUSINESS   “This reckless agenda to crush American manufacturing will be unworkable for states and local governments, making it difficult to permit investments in their communities and grow their local economies.    "Behind me are the maps that show the current standard and the counties that are open for manufacturing, and then the nonattainment areas [with the most stringent proposed standards]. “A fifth of all U.S. counties could find that they’re not in compliance with the most radical levels the EPA is proposing.   “They’ll be gridlocked with new regulations and controls, losing opportunities to improve the lives of the people.    “Even areas that meet the standards will be unable to permit expanded or new manufacturing and industry, and depending on the level of these new standards, these burdens could extend across much of the nation, including the most economically active areas of the country.   "What we see is that the regulatory burdens and restrictions put in place already are crushing our economy, making it impossible to create economic opportunity. This is not how the Clean Air Act was meant to be used.  “We need to stay focused on the real goal, which is continued American economic leadership while also ensuring clean and safe communities for people and their families.  “This is how we’ve led for decades and how we continue to be a world leader in reducing emissions, improving air quality, lifting people out of poverty, and raising the standard of living.” 

Subcommittee Chair Johnson: “EPA will prevent manufacturing expansion in U.S.”

Washington, D.C. — Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials Subcommittee Chair Bill Johnson (R-OH) delivered the following remarks at today’s hearing titled “Protecting American Manufacturing: Examining EPA’s Proposed PM2.5 Rule.”  Remarks as prepared for delivery:  EPA NEEDS BALANCED, REALISTIC STANDARDS   “For the health of our constituents, the environment, and the economy, it is vital that the EPA set balanced standards for air quality.   “The EPA has a long history of regulating fine particulate matter, referred to as PM 2.5, under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards or NAAQS.  “The Clean Air Act directs the EPA to review these standards every five years, and the last review of PM2.5 standards was completed in 2020.  “However, the Biden EPA decided to reconsider the PM2.5 standards just six months after the previous review was finalized — a discretionary decision that will have significant negative impacts across the entire country.   “In January of this year, EPA announced a proposal to lower annual PM2.5 primary standards from the current 12 micrograms per cubic meter to somewhere in the range of 9 to 10 micrograms per cubic meter.    “Now, this doesn’t sound like very much, but as I’ll explain in a minute, this can have drastic negative effects that would stifle manufacturing in our country and run counter to an administration that claims to have an industrial policy.   “Even worse, the EPA is considering dropping the standard to as low as 8 micrograms per cubic meter, a level that is approaching natural background levels in many areas of the nation. To my colleagues of both sides, this is not what the Clean Air Act was designed to do.    “Lowering the standard to 8 or 9 micrograms per cubic meter would put 100s of counties in economically active areas around the nation into nonattainment. And a standard of 10 is not much better.”  NEW STANDARDS WILL CRUSH AMERICAN MANUFACTURING   “Ultimately, EPA’s proposal locks these areas into a host of compliance obligations and oversight that extends years, even if they come back into compliance.   “What is more troubling, and a central reason why this administration should reuse its discretion and go back to the drawing board — is that vast regions of the nation will be so close to nonattainment, that they will be unable to permit new and expanded manufacturing and other industrial activities.   “The map behind me, from the EPA docket and testimony this morning, shows the problem: virtually every economically active area of the nation, would be negatively impacted by these proposed standards.   “Friends, we’ve heard from Republicans and Democrats about the importance of securing our supply chains and re-shoring manufacturing, I thought that’s what we want to do. But, this won’t get us there.  “When manufacturers seek permits to build and operate, they’ll have to show their modeled emissions won’t tip an area into non-compliance.    “As this map shows, vast areas of the nation would risk tipping into noncompliance.     “The National Association of Manufacturers commissioned a study, which indicated that lowering PM2.5 standards to 8 could threaten $87.4 billion in economic activity per year.     “The study also showed that lowering the PM2.5 standard would lead to the loss of over 300,000 manufacturing jobs annually.   “The harmful economic impacts of EPA’s proposal is staggering, not just for manufacturing, but for all sectors of the economy from energy to agriculture to transportation.    “Today we’ll hear from a panel that can help the Committee understand the impacts of implementing these proposed standards.   “Bryce Bird, the State Air Director for Utah, would be responsible for implementing EPA’s standards.   “And state air regulators are critical to implementing EPA’s standards, so, Mr. Bird’s perspective on the practical challenges states will face to design regulatory and permitting programs, and the impacts of lower standards—like problems mitigating wildfires—will be critical to our examination today.   “I’d also like to welcome Glenn Hamer, who’s involved in business development in Texas and can provide a regional economic perspective. And Tim Hunt will help us understand what industries will confront as they seek the permits to operate.  “And finally, I’d like to welcome Almeta Cooper, of Moms Clean Air Force, to share her perspective today with us as well.   “It’s critical that our hearing today uncover the real-world impacts of EPA’s proposed discretionary tightening of PM2.5 standards. We have a very knowledgeable panel, and I look forward to hearing from all of our witnesses.  “In closing, let me emphasize that the United States has decreased PM2.5 emissions by 42 percent over the past 20 years.   “We can and will continue to decrease air emissions, but we cannot do so under overly burdensome regulations that are impossible to implement.”