Manchin-Whitfield Bill Could Stifle EPA Power-Plant Regulations

WASHINGTON - MAY 06: House Energy and Commerce Committee's Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Rush (D-IL) (L) listens to ranking member Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) question witnesses during a hearing about 'The Motor Vehicle Safety Act.' May 6, 2010 in Washington, DC. In the wake of Toyota recalling more than 8 million cars worldwide, Congress is pushing the auto industry to meet new safety standards and impose tougher penalties on car companies that fail to quickly report safety defects to the government. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
National Journal
Amy Harder
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Amy Harder
Oct. 28, 2013, 11:57 a.m.

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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