Monday, September 16, 2013

States Raise Concerns About Coal Power & EPA GHG Regs

Sep 13: House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Energy and Power Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) released a white paper report by the Attorneys General from seventeen states (+Indiana DEQ) and one senior environmental regulator relating to U.S. EPA's planned new regulations for existing electricity power plants fueled by coal. The coalition of Attorneys General express concern about whether in developing and implementing these regulations the EPA will adhere to the limitations of its authority under the Clean Air Act. The states signing on to the white paper include: NE, OK, AK, FL, KS, MT, MI, AL, AZ, GA, KY, ND, OH, SD, WI, SC, WV, & IN.

    Rep. Whitfield  said, "The Obama Administration continues to unilaterally bypass the role of the states, while stifling job creation by eliminating affordable energy through new regulations that will only be another blow to our fragile economy. The most frustrating part is the Administration is doing this with no public debate, and many in the United States Congress and individual states have been expressing deep concern about the impact that this will have on our ability to remain competitive in the global marketplace."

    As set forth in the white paper by the Attorneys General sent to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, "EPA's authority under the Clean Air Act is limited to developing a procedure for states to establish emissions standards for existing sources [such as existing coal-fired power plants]." Rep. Whitfield and the Attorneys General express concern over the impact that overreaching emissions standards on existing plants will have on the economy. They state that, "The elimination of coal as a fuel for new electric generation would have highly concerning implications for electricity prices and for the economy and job-creation in general, as well as the competitiveness of American manufacturing."

    The white paper concludes, "The prospect for EPA adoption of GHG performance standards for new or existing coalbased EGUs raises serious concerns. EPA's aggressive standards for new coal-based EGUs indicate a similarly aggressive approach to existing coal-based EGUs. While EPA is authorized to require States to submit plans containing performance standards, EPA may not dictate what those performance standards shall be. Nor may EPA require States to adopt GHG performance standards that are not based on adequately demonstrated technology or that mandate, in the guise of 'flexible approaches,' the retirement or reduced operation of still-viable coal-based EGUs. These concerns are serious. EPA regulations may harm the nascent economic recovery. Moreover, our federalist system of government, as implicated in the CAA, requires that EPA recognize the rights and prerogatives of States. The extent and form of greenhouse gas regulation is important to the States; it is critical that States be allowed to play their proper roles in making the significant policy judgments that are required in adopting any such regulation."
    On Wednesday, September 18, Rep. Whitfield's subcommittee will hold a hearing on the President's climate change agenda. Although other agencies were invited, only EPA and the Department of Energy will be testifying. The subcommittee is seeking information and testimony regarding the Administration's current and planned climate change activities, including standards for new and existing power plants. Rep. Whitfield said he is also seeking information regarding the impact that the President's climate change agenda will have on states, the economy and job creation. Rep. Whitfield reported that the Department of Labor's Jobs Report for August found that  the Labor Force Participation Rate, which identifies the number of people who are active participants in the labor force (relative to the total population), decreased from 63.4% in July to 63.2% in August. This is the lowest level since August, 1978, during the Carter Administration.

    Access a release from Rep. Whitfield (click here). Access the white paper (click here). Access the upcoming hearing website for a notice and background document (click here). [#Climate, #Energy/Coal, #Air/GHG, #MIClimate]