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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