U.S. Senate passes resolutions against EPA’s new CO2-reduction rules

Coal industry groups on Nov. 17 applauded votes in the U.S. Senate that day to pass resolutions to disapprove of the EPA’s CO2-reducing Clean Power Plan for existing power plants and a separate plan for new power plants, though the votes were probably largely symbolic since the White House says President Obama plans to veto the measures if they get to him.

National Mining Association (NMA) President and CEO Hal Quinn said he supports the resolutions under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) that would shield U.S. consumers from the rising electricity prices associated with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan and standards banning new high-efficiency, low-emission coal technology.

“The U.S. mining industry and its employees across the country are grateful to Senators from both parties who have challenged EPA’s authority to continue the destruction of an important industry and the jobs it supports,” said Quinn. The resolutions before the Senate today would stop two EPA regulations that are both costly and pointless. Studies show the Clean Power Plan would add $214 billion to the country’s electricity bill, force 46 states to pay double-digit increases for power and consumers to absorb a $64 billion cost just to replace the power plants shut down by the rule. EPA thinks this cost is worthwhile to achieve a trivial reduction in global CO2 emissions by 2030. Hopefully, both Houses of Congress will disagree and, by asserting their rightful authority, spare their constituents the cost of EPA’s reckless regulations.”

Following the Senate’s passage of S.J. Res. 23 and S.J. Res. 24 disapproving of the two final rules, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity commended Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, also a Republican, for their leadership on the issue.  The resolutions would effectively nullify EPA’s newly-proposed guidelines and standards for carbon emissions, and would ensure the rules shall have no force or effect.

“Leader McConnell and Senator Capito’s stout defense of the everyday Kentuckians, West Virginians and those that depend on affordable and reliable energy nationwide cannot be lauded enough,” said Mike Duncan, president and CEO of ACCCE.  “We look forward to similar House efforts to provide a unified voice in opposition of this illegal rulemaking.”

Capito, in prepared remarks for delivery on Nov. 17 in the floor debate over these resolutions, said: “I am proud to have the support of Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and 47 cosponsors in this bipartisan effort to stop the existing coal plant rule. We have had a lot of discussion about this. It affects all of our states differently. But I think it’s important to talk not just about what this does to our individual states, but what it’s going to do to the country as a whole. If the administration’s proposed Clean Power Plan moves forward, hardship will be felt across the country. Fewer job opportunities, higher power bills and less reliable electricity will result. West Virginia, and other coal producing states like Kentucky and Wyoming, are feeling the pain caused by prior EPA regulations. Nearly 7,000 WARN notices, or notifications to employees under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act that they could be laid off within 60 days, have been issued at West Virginia mining facilities in 2015. More than 2,600 of those were issued last month alone.”

The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Nov. 17 was due to begin its review of H.J. Res 71 and H.J. Res 72, authored by Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., which would like their Senate counterparts halt the two EPA rules in their tracks.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) on Nov. 18 expressed full support and appreciation for Senate passage of these resolutions. “These votes show that a bipartisan majority in Congress believes the EPA’s Clean Power Plan goes far beyond what the Clean Air Act allows it to do,” said Debbie Wing, NRECA director of media relations. “America’s Electric Cooperatives strongly agree. The Clean Power Plan will lead to higher electricity prices, force the premature shutdown of power plants, and threaten electric reliability. Any way you look at it, it’s a bad deal for rural America.”

Last month, 39 generation and transmission cooperatives joined NRECA in petitioning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the Clean Power Plan.

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.