Bi-partisan group urges Obama to back off on greenhouse gas rules

Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, and Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, along with 219 colleagues in the House, sent a letter to the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requesting him to stop the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas (GHG) rulemaking. 

Whitfield said in a Feb. 23 statement that these costly new standards would dramatically increase electricity rates in the U.S., stop new coal plants from being built, and phase out or potentially eliminate existing coal-fired electricity, which currently accounts for nearly half of U.S. electricity supply. 

“Affordable, reliable electricity is critical to keeping and growing jobs in the United States and such a standard will likely drive up energy prices and threaten domestic jobs,” Whitfield and Barrow said in a joint statement.  “Forcing a transition to commercially unproven technologies could send thousands of U.S. jobs overseas and raise electricity rates on families and seniors at a time when the nation can least afford it.”

EPA’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gases could increase the cost of everything from gasoline to household utilities to groceries, the letter sponsors said. During a hearing in the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Feb. 9, Dr. Margo Thorning, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at the American Council for Capital Formation, testified that the first wave of EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations could result in as many as 1.4 million job losses, the letter sponsors said.

In 2011, the House passed the Energy Tax Prevention Act to stop the EPA from implementing these regulations. The Senate has failed to act on this important legislation, said the letter sponsors.

The legislation passed in the House will prohibit EPA from targeting greenhouse gases as related to climate change under the Clean Air Act. EPA would not be permitted to unilaterally regulate greenhouse gases, chiefly CO2 emissions from using fossil fuels.

The House legislation would also prevent the American economy from being placed at a competitive disadvantage, the sponsors said. U.S. energy prices, including electricity prices, and production costs will rise across numerous industries as a result of EPA’s permitting requirements by forcing the switch to more expensive fuels and/or changes in technologies and production processes. As a consequence, business investments will move overseas to developing countries whose industries produce more GHGs than the U.S., they said.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.