Coal-state Congressmen want to kill EPA rules for new, existing power plants

Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., who chairs the Energy and Power Subcommittee at the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said Oct. 23 that he will introduce resolutions under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to disapprove of two final rules issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for new and existing power plants.

Those final rules were published Oct. 23 in the Federal Register, triggering a wave of lawsuits against them, particularly the one covering existing plants, called the Clean Power Plan. Among those filing suit against the plan is a coalition of 24 states led by coal producer West Virginia, and Ohio-based coal company Murray Energy. Whitfield’s home state of Kentucky is both a major producer of coal, and heavily reliant on coal-fired power.

Under the CRA, a rule disapproved by Congress shall have no force and effect and an agency may not issue the same or a substantially similar rule unless authorized by subsequent legislation.

Whitfield has already announced his plans to retire from the House and chances of legislative success would seemingly face long odds. House Republicans still need to elect a new speaker. Even if the measure passes the House and Senate, it would face a certain veto from President Obama.

“Now we’ve got EPA’s cap and trade rules, a blueprint for economic disaster, right there in black and white in the Federal Register,” said Whitfield in an Oct. 23 statement. “Nothing in the Clean Air Act suggests EPA has such sweeping authority to implement this complicated and far-reaching scheme to commandeer each state’s electricity system. Monday will mark an important milestone in our fight to keep the lights on and protect jobs and affordable energy as I will introduce two resolutions under the Congressional Review Act disapproving of these rules.”

Over on the other side of the capitol, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced Oct. 23 that he and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W Va, will file a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act. McConnell also said he plans to join Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W Va, who will file a separate CRA with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., regarding the regulation to cut carbon emissions from existing coal-fired plants.

Said a statement from McConnell’s office: “The Obama Administration’s costly power plan regulations were published in the Federal Register today. A CRA provides Congress the ability to eliminate onerous regulations imposed by the executive branch through an expedited procedure for consideration in the Senate. Once the resolutions are filed, Senator McConnell is expected to schedule votes on the CRAs to stop these devastating EPA anti-coal rules. These regulations make it clearer than ever that the President and his Administration have gone too far, and that Congress should act to stop this regulatory assault. If both CRAs are enacted into law, they would nullify both pillars of the costly power rule even if portions of the plan have already gone into effect.”

“Here’s what is lost in this Administration’s crusade for ideological purity: the livelihoods of our coal miners and their families. Folks who haven’t done anything to deserve a ‘war’ being declared upon them. These are Kentuckians who just want to work, provide for their families, and deliver the type of low-cost energy that attracts more jobs to Kentucky. And coal is what allows so many of them do all that. It provides well-paying jobs and keeps the lights on,” McConnell said. “I have vowed to do all I can to fight back against this Administration on behalf of the thousands of Kentucky coal miners and their families, and this CRA is another tool in that battle. The CRAs that we will file will allow Congress the ability to fight these anti-coal regulations.”

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.