U.S. Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) are co-sponsoring a bill that would limit EPA’s authority to issue greenhouse gas emissions rules for new coal-fired power plants. The bill, H.R. 3826, passed 229 – 183 in the House on March 6, 2014 along mostly partisan lines, but is unlikely to clear the Democrat-controlled Senate. President Obama will likely veto any legislation limiting EPA’s authority to regulate GHG emissions from new coal-fired power plants, the source of about one-third of domestic GHG emissions.
Earlier this year, EPA published draft rules that would require new coal-fired power plants to install carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology in order to obtain a permit to emit. Opponents claim the technology is not commercially feasible and amounts to an effective ban on new coal-fired power plants, dubbing the rules part of President Obama’s “war on coal.” Environmentalists counter that such technology is feasible and the rules will encourage the research, development, and implementation of CCS. EPA’s rules on GHG emissions from new coal-fired power plants cited various CCS projects around the country, including some that received subsidies from the Department of Energy. Opponents of the rules claim that EPA violated the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which prohibits EPA from relying on government subsidized projects to support a finding that technology has been “adequately demonstrated.”
H.R. 3826 would remove the requirement that new coal-fired power plants install CCS and place a major roadblock in EPA’s authority to issue regulations limiting GHGs from existing power plants, rules that are expected to be proposed by June of this year. While the bill is unlikely to become law, Representative Whitfield is aiming to get the bill to the Senate and force Senate Democrats to take a position in the hopes of adding fodder during the upcoming November mid-term elections.
Philip Pulitzer, EHS Legal Counsel at Red-on-line
H.R. 3826, The Electricity Security and Affordability Act (http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Bill-Text-HR-3826-Electricity-Security-and-Affordability-Act-2014-1-9.pdf)
Pete Kasperowicz, House votes to block EPA regs on coal-fired electricity plants, The Hill, March 6, 2014 (http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/200096-house-votes-to-block-epa-regs-on-electricity-plants)
Laura Barron-Lopez, House mounts attack on Obama’s climate rules, The Hill, March 4, 2014 http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/199898-house-bill-seeking-to-derail-climate-rules-to-hit-floor