A collection of Republican representatives from Arizona, including one from the East Valley, criticized the EPA and President Barack Obama for recent actions and what they deemed repeated overreach by both as part of an “imperial presidency” at a recent hearing in Mesa.
Held at the Virginia G. Piper Reparatory Theater in Mesa on Aug. 22 and hosted by Rep. Paul Gosar, the Congressional Field Hearing collected input from residents about issues with the EPA and the recent IRS scandal. Joining Gosar were fellow Reps. Trent Franks, David Schweikert and Matt Salmon, whose district encompasses Gilbert, Mesa and Queen Creek.
“My hope is that we listen and gather information from you,” Gosar said to the audience of more than 500 people. Much of the discussion concerning the EPA, or the Environmental Protection Agency, centered on proposed air pollution restrictions at the Navajo Generating Station located near Page. The station is owned by several groups, including the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation — it owns a plurality of the plant — Salt River Project, Arizona Public Service, Tucson Electric Power and agencies from Nevada and Los Angeles, according to the EPA website.
The website states the agency has proposed air pollution limits under the auspices of the Clean Air Act, with the plant having until 2023 to put in controls to cut down on its emissions, although the plant would have to cut down its emissions 84 percent by 2018. The agency states the goal is to improve the visibility at surrounding national parks, including the Grand Canyon, and SRP, which operates the station, estimates the upgrades would cost approximately $500 million.
All four representatives, however, claimed the proposal represented an overreach by the EPA and was not approved by Congress. Salmon added the steps taken would have a negligible effect on the amount of haze produced.
“Why are we standing by with this rotten deal? We have to stand up and fight,” he said.
The other topic addressed by the representatives was the issues with the Internal Revenue Service in which the organization treated political groups seeking tax-exempt status with extra scrutiny. The incident turned into a scandal after initial reports indicated the groups targeted were conservative leaning and included Tea Party organizations, but recent documents released by the IRS indicate the agency targeted liberal groups as well.
Gosar said the acts taken by the IRS against conservative groups were one way the Obama administration has attacked “political enemies” and is one tool to harass United States residents.
“We’re not here to talk about any ‘phony scandals’; all of these are real,” Salmon said.
All four representatives used their opening statements to deride Obama for running what Gosar called an “imperial presidency,” with Schweikert criticizing Obama for putting politics above the national interest.
Salmon said the actions of the IRS and the monitoring of emails and phone records by the National Security Agency are akin to despotism, and Franks, who called Obama America’s most “antithetical” president, said the “liberal left” has had a detrimental effect on the country.
“Our children, and everything we love, are at stake,” Franks said. He added the U.S. “is still the greatest country in the history of humanity.”
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