Ed Whitfield new 300KENTUCKY (11/14/13) – The Subcommittee on Energy and Power, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (KY-01), today held a hearing to discuss EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas standards for new power plants and draft legislation authored by Chairman Whitfield and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). The bipartisan draft offers an alternative to these unworkable standards as well as EPA’s planned regulations for existing power plants.

“The regulation at issue today, the proposed greenhouse gas standards for new power plants, may well be the most damaging one yet in the agency’s all-out attack on one of our nation’s most affordable, reliable energy sources, coal,” said Whitfield.

Whitfield and Manchin authored their legislation in response to EPA’s proposed reg-ulation that would require new coal plants to use carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies that are not yet commercially viable, effectively banning new coal-fired generation in the United States. The legislation allows coal to remain part of America’s energy mix, requiring EPA to set standards for new plants that are ac-tually achievable and based on proven technologies. It also provides that Congress set the effective date for EPA’s planned greenhouse gas rules for existing plants.

Tony Campbell, President and CEO of East Kentucky Power Cooperative, explained the importance of coal-fired generation to providing affordable and reliable electrici-ty to consumers and businesses. He lent his support to the Whitfield-Manchin solu-tion, saying, “This bipartisan bill is badly needed to ensure EPA does not promul-gate a rule that jeopardizes the country’s energy future, puts electricity relia-bility at risk, and severely harms the economy.”

Members of the subcommittee pressed EPA Acting Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe on the feasibility of CCS technology that would be required to meet the agency’s proposed standards. McCabe suggested that four plants using the technology are cur-rently under construction or planned, but she conceded that none have reached com-pletion and all the projects have received significant government funding. Later, engineering consultant Edward Cichanowicz testified on the second panel that, “At present, the technology is not commercially proven to allow broad application in the U.S.”

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt discussed states’ concerns over EPA's expan-sive regulatory efforts being undertaken under the guise of the Clean Air Act. Pruitt, along with the attorneys general of 16 other states and one senior environ-mental regulator, recently submitted a white paper to EPA outlining concerns with EPA’s failure to properly defer to state authority under the Clean Air Act, and the implications of the agency’s planned power plant rules. Pruitt reiterated these concerns in his testimony today, stating, “The elimination of coal-based electric generation – which according to the U.S. Energy Information Ad-ministration is projected to provide 40 percent of U.S. electricity in 2014 – would result in higher electricity prices for ratepayers, and would be detrimental to the national and state economies, as well as job-creation in general. No doubt, in-creased electricity prices will hurt the competitiveness of American manufactur-ing.”

Chairman Whitfield concluded, “Prior to the Obama administration, the EPA and states had a decades-long history of regulating coal in ways that reduced emissions without abandoning this vital energy source. And I believe that Sen. Manchin and I have tapped into that tradition of realistic and achievable regulation with our draft legislation. Our bipartisan and bicameral proposal is the commonsense way to ensure that any greenhouse gas regulations for power plants going forward are
achievable.”

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Posted on 2/2/14

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