H.R. 3826, the Electricity Security and Affordability Act

February 28, 2014

H.R. 3826, the Electricity Security and Affordability Act
Authored By Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV)

After a bipartisan Congress rejected sweeping cap-and-trade legislation in 2010, in June 2013, President Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency to develop unprecedented new greenhouse gas standards for new and existing fossil fuel-fired power plants. In September 2013, the agency proposed regulations that would require new coal plants to install carbon capture and storage technologies that are not yet commercially available, effectively banning the construction of even the most state-of-the-art coal-fired plants. The agency is expected to propose regulations for existing plants in June 2014.

H.R. 3826 would require that any greenhouse gas standards set by EPA for new coal-fired plants can be achieved by commercial power plants operating in the real world, including highly efficient plants that utilize the most modern, state-of-the-art emissions control technologies. Under the bill, any New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for such plants set by EPA must have been achieved for the period of one year by at least six different generating units.

The legislation also provides that Congress would set the effective date for EPA’s expected regulations for existing fossil fuel-fired power plants. The bill would ensure any proposed new greenhouse gas regulations for existing plants would be subject to congressional oversight and review. The bill also instructs EPA to report to Congress on the economic and other impacts of any proposed regulations for existing plants.

H.R. 3826 allows coal to remain part of America’s energy mix, protects jobs, and promotes a diverse and affordable electricity portfolio.

The administration’s proposed and planned power plant regulations threaten to take coal, one of the nation’s most affordable and reliable sources of electricity, completely out of America’s electricity generation mix. The result will be more expensive and less reliable energy, sending American jobs overseas and making our manufacturing and other industries less globally competitive.

Coal is currently used to generate electricity in 48 states and supplies nearly 40 percent of U.S. electricity needs. EPA’s actions have already contributed to the announced closures of over 300 coal-fired power plant units across the country and the expected loss of tens of thousands of jobs.  EPA is currently considering sweeping standards for existing plants that have the potential to significantly drive up electricity prices and affect the reliability of the grid.

H.R. 3826 is a bipartisan, bicameral solution to put America’s energy future back on track. Instead of limiting our fuel choices, and threatening to raise electricity costs and undermine electric reliability, this bill will allow the U.S to take full advantage of all of our abundant resources to allow greater access to more secure and affordable energy.