A coal-state duo floated legislation Monday that would require congressional approval of President Obama’s rules aimed at slashing carbon emissions from the nation’s existing fleet of coal-fired power plants, according to a draft of the bill obtained by National Journal.
The pair of lawmakers — House Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. — come from two of the most coal-dependent states in the country, and they worry that the Environmental Protection Agency’s suite of regulations aimed at addressing climate change will cripple their states’ economies and the nation’s electricity supply, which is 40 to 45 percent coal-based.
The bill would make EPA’s forthcoming rules for existing power plants as well as for modified and reconstructed plants contingent upon Congress passing a law “specifying the effective date,” according to a one-page summary of the bill and a section-by-section summary. This would not bode well for EPA given the gridlock on Capitol Hill and could essentially stop the administration from finalizing the rules, which are a cornerstone of Obama’s agenda for addressing climate change without new legislation being approved by Congress.
The bill also addresses EPA’s rules for new power plants, proposed in September. It would block the proposal and require EPA to set a standard for coal-fired power plants that has “been achieved over a one-year period by at least six units located at different commercial power plants in the United states.”
Coal-state lawmakers are concerned that EPA’s proposed rules for new plants will require technology for carbon capture and sequestration that is not yet commercially available.
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"The Senate standstill over a stopgap spending bill appeared headed toward a resolution on Friday night. Senators who were holding up the measure said votes are expected later in the evening. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin had raised objections to the continuing resolution because it did not include a full year's extension of retired coal miners' health benefits," but Manchin "said he and other coal state Democrats agreed with Senate Democratic leaders during a caucus meeting Thursday that they would not block the continuing resolution, but rather use the shutdown threat as a way to highlight the health care and pension needs of the miners."
Donald Trump transition team announced Friday afternoon that top supporter Rudy Giuliani has taken himself out of the running to be in Trump's cabinet, though CNN previously reported that it was Trump who informed the former New York City mayor that he would not be receiving a slot. While the field had seemingly been narrowed last week, it appears to be wide open once again, with ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson the current favorite.
The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.
The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.