(House of Representatives - December 21, 2018)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Pages H10558-H10560]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
bill (S. 1934) to prevent catastrophic failure or shutdown of remote 
diesel power engines due to emission control devices, and for other 
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                                S. 1934

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``Alaska Remote Generator 
     Reliability and Protection Act''.


       (a) In General.--The Administrator of the Environmental 
     Protection Agency shall revise section 60.4216(c) of title 
     40, Code of Federal Regulations (as in effect on the date of 
     enactment of this Act), by striking ``that was not 
     certified'' and all that follows through ``compared to 
     engine-out emissions'' and inserting ``must have that engine 
     certified as meeting at least Tier 3 PM standards''.
       (b) Emissions and Energy Reliability Study.--Not later than 
     1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the 
     Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, in 
     consultation with the Secretary of Energy, shall submit to 
     the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the Senate 
     and the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of 
     Representatives a report assessing options for the Federal 
     Government to assist remote areas in the State of Alaska in 
     meeting the energy needs of those areas in an affordable and 
     reliable manner using--
       (1) existing emissions control technology; or
       (2) other technology that achieves emissions reductions 
     similar to the technology described in paragraph (1).
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Illinois (Mr. Shimkus) and the gentleman from New York (Mr. Tonko) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Illinois.

                             General Leave

  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks 
and insert extraneous materials in the Record on the bill.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Illinois?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, this bill is a targeted exemption for remote villages in 
Alaska from EPA's most recent emissions rules on diesel generators.
  EPA and State officials have found that diesel generators compliant 
with the most recent standards do not work reliably in harsh, cold 
winter conditions. To preserve the health and safety of the people 
relying on diesel generators, these are less strict but actually 
workable standards.
  Our colleagues in the Senate passed this bill with unanimous consent. 
It is reasonable legislation that deserves our support.
  I see Senators Whitehouse and Carper were supportive of this bill. It 
comes out of the Committee on Environment and Public Works.
  Mr. Speaker, I ask our colleagues to support it, and I reserve the 
balance of my time.
  Mr. TONKO. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to S. 1934, which would roll 
back public health standards under the Clean Air Act for dirty diesel 
generating units in remote areas of Alaska.
  This legislation would undermine protections for human health, 
protections for the environment, and protections for our climate.
  Adding insult to injury, this bill is being brought up under 
suspension of the rules at the last minute, over the objections of 
  The Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has jurisdiction over the 
Clean Air Act and where I serve as the Environment Subcommittee ranking 
member, held no hearings on this subject nor considered any legislation 
relating to this matter.
  EPA already gives special considerations for diesel generators in 
remote areas of Alaska. These special considerations allow remote areas 
to use stationary diesel generators that are certified to marine engine 
standards rather than more stringent land-based, nonroad engines.
  However, all diesel generators in these areas that are model year 
2014 or later, and not for emergency use, must be certified to meet 
EPA's tier 4 emission standards. If they cannot meet tier 4 standards, 
then they must meet certain alternative requirements for particulate 
matter or install an emission control device that reduces PM emissions.
  S. 1934 directs the EPA Administrator to revise downward the existing 
New Source Performance Standards for diesel generators, so that these 
units would have to meet only EPA's tier 3 standards rather than the 
more protective tier 4 criteria.
  Certainly, it is legitimate for Congress to consider assisting these 
remote areas with unique power needs and pollution problems. However, 
we should be looking to help these areas obtain cleaner, healthier air, 
not rolling back standards and pretending that the pollution and 
associated health and environmental problems don't exist.
  Further, I note that the bill directs the EPA, in consultation with 
the Department of Energy, to submit a report assessing options for the 
Federal Government to meet the energy needs of remote areas in the 
State of Alaska in an affordable and reliable manner while addressing 
air emissions. That study is the right first step, and I would be happy 
to support it and then work with my colleagues to find ways to help 
these areas, based on the results of that particular study.
  Unfortunately, this bill takes the backward approach of rolling back 
standards and then studying the problem. Perhaps if our Republican 
colleagues had come to us sooner than this week, we might have been 
able to find a way to come together on legislation.
  Unfortunately, Republicans have chosen to take this up without 
consultation, at the last minute, over our objections. They have left 
us no option other than to fight. I wish it were otherwise.
  For the past 2 years, the Trump administration has engaged in a 
consistent effort to undermine the Clean Air Act and its protections 
for everything from mercury and hazardous air pollutants to smog and 
particulate matter.
  We have seen the Trump administration walk away from the Paris 
climate agreement, undo the Clean Power Plan, and gut fuel economy and 
greenhouse gas standards for motor vehicles. We must continue to stand 
firm against these actions that endanger public health, our continued 
economic well-being, and most certainly our planet.
  Mr. Speaker, with that, I urge my colleagues to stand up for our 
public health, for our climate, and against those continued rollbacks 
of our Nation's most successful environmental statute, the Clean Air 
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote a strong ``no'' on S. 1934, 
and I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from 
Alaska (Mr. Young), the only House Member from Alaska and the dean of 
the House.
  (Mr. YOUNG of Alaska asked and was given permission to revise and 
extend his remarks.)
  Mr. YOUNG of Alaska. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for bringing 
this up.
  This is not a Trump bill. This is a bill that affects one area: 
Alaska. This bill was asked for by the people who live in Alaska, not 
New Yorkers, by people who need power, that have not had power. It has 
been put in, in the past, they can't meet these standards imposed by 
the EPA. It doesn't work in the cold climate. They do not have the 
money to buy new generators.

  Some say we have to protect their health. The gentleman from New York 
is going to shut down the clinics, the schools, and individual homes 
that cannot be heated, because there will be no electricity. There are 
no roads.
  I am talking about small villages, 60 people, 25 people. They all 
have generators now that are outdated, but that is the only thing they 
can afford.
  You know, we hear a lot from that side of the aisle, and sometimes 

[[Page H10559]]

side, about how we are protecting the people. Well, let's see how you 
are protecting them when they don't have healthcare, and they don't 
have schools. You really are helping them out.
  As usual, the other side of this aisle, unfortunately, stands on this 
House floor and says what is best for people when they haven't the 
slightest idea.
  You know, I don't wish bad luck on anybody, but maybe we want to have 
a blackout in New York and see how you would feel in a snowstorm. Maybe 
we would have some people understand that you are affecting people's 
lives directly by not supporting this bill.
  This is a Senate bill that passed unanimously, supported by Tom 
Carper, supported by Ed Markey, supported by, I think, every Senator. 
It doesn't have opposition on the House floor.
  Unfortunately, this is under suspension, and you will probably have 
enough votes to defeat this bill. Go home and feel good, say: I did the 
Lord's work. I kept the air clean. I protected the people.
  And you are full of it, really full of it. You are hurting the 
people, hurting my Alaskans, my rural Alaskans.
  I stand on this floor and watch this time and time again. Why would 
you oppose something that is going to help people? Impose an unfunded 
mandate on these villages is what, very frankly, the EPA has done.
  The new ones, I might see, but the ones that are established there, I 
would suggest, respectfully, we ought to let them use that, so they 
could have heat in their houses, not air-conditioning. They can keep 
their food frozen. They can have their clinics take care of their 
people. And their schools can stay open.
  These rural communities of my Alaska Natives, that is who you are 
  I hear it all the time: We are going to help the impoverished. We are 
going to help the poor.
  You are not helping them. You are hurting them.
  When you go to sleep tonight in your nice, warm house, and you fly in 
your nice plane, and you get in your nice car and feel good about 
helping the poor people, I say you are hurting them.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. YOUNG of Alaska. I yield to the gentleman from Illinois.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, just to help clarify the argument, 
obviously, I have a few questions.
  Define an isolated village.
  Mr. YOUNG of Alaska. A village has, probably, no roads, only an 
airport, small, fuel has to be shipped in by air or by boat.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. How long would that flight be?
  Mr. YOUNG of Alaska. It depends. In some areas, it is 3 hours, and 
you are having to fly in the fuel.
  They have had this generator. They had enough money to buy it maybe 
10, 15 years ago, and now they will have to put on a so-called air 
cleaner. They don't have the knowledge to run it, and it doesn't work.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. How many people are in an isolated village?
  Mr. YOUNG of Alaska. Oh, 25, 50, 100. My village that I live in has 
got 550. That is all.
  To give you an idea, if the gentleman would yield to me for a second: 
If you took Alaska, all the land east of the Mississippi River, to the 
Atlantic Ocean, to the tip of Maine, to the tip of Florida, that is 
part of Alaska. In that area that I am talking about, Maine to Florida, 
there are 253 Congressmen and 52 Senators. Think about that.

                              {time}  1130

  Think about that. Why I say that, there are no roads, and you are 
going to punish those people who finally got enough money to buy an 
older generator by the EPA, an unfunded mandate, and say you are 
helping them.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. If the gentleman will continue to yield for a last 
question, I hear that these new generators cost around $66,000 to 
  Mr. YOUNG of Alaska. More than that. Usually, in that area, probably 
about $150,000, if.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. So if you have 60 people, that is $1,000 each.
  Mr. YOUNG of Alaska. By the way, there is no income. This is a 
poverty subsistence-style life.
  They do have a school trying to improve their lot. They do have a 
clinic trying to help their health. But you are going take the power 
away because you want to keep the air pure?
  Shame on you.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. I thank my colleague for yielding.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Members are reminded to address their 
remarks to the Chair.
  Mr. TONKO. Mr. Speaker, I respect and I share the gentleman's concern 
for the people of Alaska. I am talking about a bill that is drafted 
incorrectly. While it may be specific to Alaska, it is not specific to 
remote areas.
  So we can share compassion for the people. I am just saying, if we 
had done this in regular order and exchanged dialogue with one another, 
perhaps the outcome would have been stronger.
  Mr. Speaker, I continue to reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from 
Oregon (Mr. Walden), the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
  Mr. WALDEN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Illinois and my 
colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
  I spent about a year in Alaska going to college, have been back a 
number of times, and it is, as the gentleman from Alaska describes, a 
very unique area. It is unlike anywhere else in America.
  When you get out into these remote villages, you may fly in in a 
small Cessna airplane, land on a gravel strip, as I have done, and get 
out, and there may only be 25 or 50 people there. That is it.
  By the way, in the winter, it can be--what?--50, 60 below. I have 
seen that. And I have seen it in spring at break where we had to try to 
take off three different times on a runway because it had begun to 
soften up. The snow had begun to soften up, and we had to get out of 
the plane, turn it around, get back in. Eventually, we had to leave one 
guy behind in order to get off the ground. This is a very unique place.
  The poverty that the gentleman from Alaska describes is very real. 
So, yes, of course, I wish we had had more time to work this out.
  And to my colleague from New York, he and I have worked out most of 
these things along the way quite well. This bill came to us late, and, 
frankly, we didn't have time to deal with all of the finite pieces. 
Perhaps we could go back in the next session and do that, but this is 
before us today. The problem is before us today.
  I believe this is a reasonable solution and that we should pass it. 
So, Mr. Speaker, I encourage my colleagues to approve this bill and 
send it to the President. I commit to work to make it even better next 
  I won't be the chairman, I understand that, but Mr. Tonko, Mr. 
Speaker, will be, I think, the chairman of the Environment 
Subcommittee, and I would work with him and the gentleman from Alaska.
  But this is the time, as we know, when things finally get done, and 
they may not be perfect, but in this case, I would err on the side of 
passing this bill and then fine-tweak it later if we have to.
  This is a real serious issue in these tiny, remote, impoverished 
villages. I would defer to the gentleman from Alaska, who knows it 
better than any of us, and encourage passage of this legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I also want to pay tribute, in closing, to our chief 
counsel on the committee, Karen Christian, who will be leaving us at 
the end of this Congress. She has been a remarkable member of the 
staff, engaged in the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee for 
years, doing incredible work, and is going off to greener pastures.
  After 13 years in the committee, I just want to say to Karen: Thank 
you for your service. Thank you for your leadership. We are going to 
miss you. Good luck to you and your family
  Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I'm 
convinced we have the best members in Congress and the best staff. In 
her thirteen years with the Committee, Karen Christian has been one of 
our finest. At the end of this Congress, Karen will move on, and while 
we are sad to see her do, we wish her well.
  Karen joined the Committee in 2006 as a counsel on our Oversight and 
Investigations Subcommittee. She's served as both the deputy chief 
counsel and chief counsel of that subcommittee, and for the last four 
years she

[[Page H10560]]

has served as general counsel of the Committee.
  As deputy chief counsel, Karen led several major Committee 
investigations, including investigations into the Department of 
Energy's management of the Loan Guarantee Program, including a failed 
loan guarantee to Solyndra; the stimulus bill, American Recovery and 
Reinvestment Act; cyber security and critical infrastructure, including 
an investigation of Huawei Technologies; and the Federal Communications 
Commission's handling of a license application from LightSquared.
  As chief counsel, she led the Committee's investigations into General 
Motors ignition switch safety failures; the implementation of the 
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including the failure of; the fungal meningitis outbreak due to contaminated 
drugs; mental health care and treatment, including federal programs 
related mental health and serious mental illness; the opioid addiction 
epidemic; and the Environmental Protection Agency's consideration of 
carbon capture technologies in developing greenhouse gas emissions 
standards for new power plants.
  And as general counsel, Karen has been responsible for overseeing and 
managing the legislative process for the entire Committee--that 
includes a 27-hour, marathon markup in March 2017 and regularly 
battling to preserve the Committee's jurisdiction.
  By every measure, Karen's time at the Committee has been a complete 
success. While we are sad to lose our friend, we look forward to seeing 
her next accomplishments.
  Karen, we wish you and your family--Dave, Christian, Andrew, and 
Charlotte the very best. We thank you for your service, your hard work, 
your guidance, and most of all your friendship. Your work made a 
difference . . . America is better because of your efforts.
  Thank you and remember--at Energy and Commerce, the fun never stops.
  Mr. TONKO. Mr. Speaker, to Karen, from this side of the aisle, I wish 
her well, too. It was enjoyable working with her, and I look forward to 
working with the Members of the other side of the aisle in the 116th 
Congress on this issue and others.
  Mr. Speaker, we have no further speakers, so I will close saying that 
I am concerned about the loosely defined language in this bill. I am 
concerned about the attacks on the Clean Air Act that are so important 
to all Americans.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I will just continue to respond to what the 
chairman said.
  I think if we are going to err, we ought to err on the health and 
safety of Alaskans. I hope my colleagues will join us. I look forward 
to working with them in the next Congress?
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Ms. McCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to S. 1934, a bill 
that would roll back standards under the Clean Air Act (CAA) for diesel 
generating units in ``remote areas'' of Alaska. I understand the 
motivation behind this bill, but it could set a precedent for weakening 
existing New Source Performance Standards for diesel generators not 
just in Alaska, but across the United States.
  I am committed to finding ways to help Alaskans in remote areas have 
affordable electricity while maintain health protections. Congress 
should tackle this issue with an open debate through regular order.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Shimkus) that the House suspend the rules 
and pass the bill, S. 1934.
  The question was taken.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds 
being in the affirmative, the ayes have it.
  Mr. TONKO. Mr. Speaker, on that, I demand the yeas and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further 
proceedings on this motion will be postponed.