Inhofe: Third Democrat joins his fight to kill the Utility MACT rule

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said June 14 that he anticipates the Senate will vote June 20 on his resolution (SJR 37) to stop the Environmental Protection Agency’s Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule, also known as the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS).

Inhofe said the support continues to grow ahead of the vote, with the National Federation of Independent Business publicly backing his resolution. Also, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has announced that she will vote for the measure, joining Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Inhofe said.

The MACT/MATS rule, combined with other EPA initiatives, would force the shutdown of dozens of coal-fired power plants over the next few years. That lost capacity would in large part be replaced with new gas-fired generation, with some openings for renewables.

“Next week, the United States Senate will have an opportunity to take the first step towards stopping President Obama’s War on Coal,” Inhofe said. “As someone who voted for the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, and as Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee who introduced legislation in 2003 and 2005 to cut mercury emissions by 70%, I think we can all agree that members of this body share a commitment to improving air quality. But we can achieve air quality goals it in a way that does not harm jobs and the economy. The Obama-EPA’s Utility MACT rule makes no effort to balance environmental protection and economic growth: with a cost/benefit ratio of 1600 to 1, it’s very clear that Utility MACT is about one thing only and that’s killing coal. By voting for my resolution, members of the US Senate would send EPA back to the drawing board to craft a more workable rule,” Inhofe said.

Inhofe said that some senators will hide behind a “cover” bill that would still allow EPA to kill coal – but just put off the execution date for six years through a delay in the MACT/MATS implementation.

The National Federation of Independent Business letter said: “Unfortunately, the way the Utility MACT rule is structured will mean significant increases in energy rates. The rule, which was finalized by the EPA in February, is the most expensive in U.S. history, with an estimated cost of $90 billion. This cost will be passed down to energy consumers, such as small businesses. At a time when small businesses are being asked to help create jobs – two-thirds of the net new job growth in the United States is from small businesses – asking these companies to substantially increase the amount they spend on energy is a burden they cannot shoulder.”

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.