Monday, January 11, 2010

North Dakota Democrat Introduces Bill To Prevent EPA GHG Regs

Jan 8: Signaling additional controversy and complications for the Obama Administration in attempting to deal with climate change, regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and implement the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in (Massachusetts, et al. v. EPA, et al., No. 05-1120), Democratic Representative Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota announced the introduction of H.R. 4396, the Save Our Energy Jobs Act, which he said would prohibit U.S. EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. He said the legislation has been introduced in response to a recent EPA announcement that it was moving forward on new rules to regulate GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act. In a release he indicated, "This action, if not prevented, could dramatically increase energy rates as well as end up costing North Dakota jobs." The Administration already faces nearly unanimous opposition from House and Senate Republicans on the issue and the Senate will soon consider a "disapproval resolution" proposed by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to stop U.S. EPA from regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act [See WIMS 12/15/09 & 1/6/10].

Representative Pomeroy said, "Regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under the current provisions of the Clean Air Act is irresponsible and just plain wrong. That is why I introduced the Save Our Energy Jobs Act which would stop the EPA from moving forward with its proposal. I am not about to let some Washington bureaucrat dictate new public policy that will raise our electricity rates and put at risk the thousands of coal-related jobs in our state." There were no cosponsors to the bill which was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Chaired by Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA).

On April 2, 2007, the United States Supreme Court, in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that the EPA has the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions should they find these emissions to be harmful to public health and welfare. Subsequent to this new authority, on December 7, 2009, the EPA released a final endangerment finding that greenhouse gas emissions do endanger both public health and welfare [
See WIMS 12/8/09]. Making this determination was necessary to finalizing the EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas emissions standards for light-duty vehicles, which have been proposed by EPA and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Safety Administration. Once this EPA rule becomes final, greenhouse gases will officially be regulated pollutants under the Clean Air Act. Representative Pomeroy indicated, "This action would then subject stationary sources which emit greenhouse gas emissions, such as power plants and factories like those managed by North Dakota Rural Electric Cooperatives, Basin Electric and Minnkota Power, to regulation under the Clean Air Act."

In anticipation of this outcome, EPA has announced a proposed rule requiring large industrial facilities that emit at least 25,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year to obtain construction and operating permits covering these emissions [
See WIMS 10/1/09]. Representative Pomeroy indicated, "These permits must demonstrate the use of best available control technologies and energy efficiency measures to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and would cover all of North Dakota’s seven coal fired power plants, the Tesoro oil refinery in Mandan and other industries across the state. However, current control technologies and measures are either unproven or incredibly expensive and could in effect, make new coal facilities impossible to build."

Included in the Representative's release was a comment from the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives Executive Vice President and General Manager Dennis Hill who said, "Rep. Pomeroy’s bill supports our position that Congress should be in charge of setting the policy on climate change legislation. We’ve been working with our Congressional delegation to adopt provisions in a comprehensive climate change bill that achieve carbon reductions at a pace that’s fair, affordable and achievable. We believe any climate legislation should make clear that Congress, not the EPA, sets the policy on carbon." Representative Pomeroy indicated, "This action could result in significantly raising local energy prices and endanger the 28,000 direct and indirect jobs that are connected to North Dakota’s coal industry, not to mention thousands of jobs connected to our manufacturing and expanding oil and gas industries."

Access a release from Representative Pomeroy (
click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 4396 (click here).

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