House passes resolutions to kill EPA’s CO2 plans for existing and new power plants

The U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 1 approved S.J. Res. 23 and S.J. Res. 24, which, if they get beyond certain vetoes from President Barack Obama, would halt the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s CO2-reducing Clean Power Plan for existing power plants and a companion rule for new power plants.

These resolutions are identical to H.J. Res. 71 and H.J. Res. 72, which were introduced by Subcommittee on Energy and Power Chairman Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., a vocal critic of the impact both of these air plans would have on coal-fired power.

The GOP majority on the House Energy and Commerce Committee noted in a Dec. 1 statement that to date, 27 states have filed court challenges to the rule on existing plants and 23 states are challenging the rule for new plants. These resolutions, said the statement, are about keeping electricity prices affordable, protecting jobs, and maintaining grid reliability. S.J. Res. 23 passed by a vote of 235-188 and S.J. Res. 24 passed by a vote of 242-180.

Whitfield said about the EPA air plans: “Both of these measures pose a serious risk to the nation’s electricity system and any person or business that has to pay an electric bill should be very concerned. Unilateral EPA micromanagement of electricity generation as embodied in these rules is a recipe for higher prices, reduced reliability, and job losses that are well out of proportion to any climate benefits. I’m glad a majority of members in the House stood with the American people and voted to protect American ratepayers from higher electricity prices.”

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., added: “Make no mistake – this is cap and trade all over again. This administration is regulating where it once failed to legislate and these resolutions seek to block the administration’s end run around Congress. Keeping electricity affordable and reliable are important to folks back in Michigan and I’m glad the House and Senate have both voted to keep the lights on.”

The Senate had recently passed similar resolutions, mostly, like in the House, along party lines, with some coal-state Democrats crossing the aisle to vote for them. The White House has already said it would veto both measures.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) on Dec. 1 applauded passage of the resolutions in the House and expressed appreciation for Whitfield’s leadership on this issue, which is of great concern to America’s electric co-ops.

“The Clean Power Plan puts EPA on a collision course with what co-op member-owners care about the most—a reliable and affordable supply of electricity,” said Debbie Wing, NRECA director of media relations. “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.”

In November, 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. 

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.

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.