OPINION: Ed Whitfield and Joe Manchin in The Hill: Bipartisan plan to protect an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy

November 14, 2013

 

November 14, 2013

Bipartisan plan to protect an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy

By Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)

The United States has a good story to tell. Over the last decade we have seen a boom in American energy production that has been a game-changer for the U.S. economy. Private sector innovation and advanced technologies have transformed our energy landscape, given birth to an American manufacturing renaissance, and spurred the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs. But there is another news story about to catch fire that threatens to change the rules of the game in a different way—the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) sweeping regulatory agenda, which stands to bring America’s energy revolution and economic recovery to a screeching halt.

EPA is moving forward with a stream of costly regulations that will significantly change the future of energy production and consumption in this country and put an end to the promise of a true “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. EPA has proposed standards for new power plants that are so extreme they would effectively eliminate coal as a source of future electricity generation in America. The rule requires the adoption of costly capture and storage (CCS) technologies that are not yet commercially viable, essentially setting a standard that is impossible to meet.  No other country in the world has adopted such an extreme position.  

All of America’s resources – coal, natural gas, nuclear, and renewables – play a critical role in keeping American electricity affordable and reliable, and a diverse energy portfolio is critical to maintaining America’s competitive advantage. But if EPA's rule for new plants is allowed to move forward as written, American consumers and businesses will be denied the benefits afforded by coal, which provides nearly 40 percent of the nation with affordable and reliable electricity.

EPA’s proposed standard for new power plants is only the first of many greenhouse gas regulations to be proposed by the agency. Next in the queue, and perhaps the most impactful, are greenhouse gas rules for existing power plants. EPA is not stopping here.  EPA is also expected to expand its authority beyond just power plants to other stationary sources like refineries, industrial boilers, cement kilns, chemical plants, paper mills, and manufacturing facilities.

The future of American energy and our economic prosperity is at stake, and we will not stand idly by. We are taking action to ensure America can maintain a diverse fuel mix that encourages economic growth and investment. We know the best approach to ensure affordability and reliability is to strike the right balance through market forces rather than government mandates or other market distorting policies.

We have put forward a bipartisan, bicameral solution that will create guidelines for EPA to set standards for new power plants that are actually achievable, and will put the ultimate authority for any rule or guideline affecting existing plants in the hands of Congress.

America is now standing at a critical crossroads and it is time to have a national discussion about energy policy and decide what direction we want to go. There’s a choice between one path that takes full advantage of all of our domestic resources and pursues innovative opportunities to expand access to energy, while keeping prices affordable and helping American businesses compete. Or, there’s a path that picks winners and losers, limiting our diversity and energy and economic security and resulting in higher energy prices for consumers and industrial stagnation. 

It is up to us as policymakers to make the right choices to fulfill our energy and economic potential. We hope our colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join us in this fight to keep American electricity affordable and reliable now and into the future. EPA should not be the final arbiter of whether or not coal should be a part of our energy future.  The American people must be a part of that decision. 

Whitfield has represented Kentucky's 1st Congressional District since 1995. He sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee and is chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power. Manchin is the junior senator from West Virginia, serving since 2010. He sits on the Energy and Natural Resources; the Armed Services; and the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs committees, as well as the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

To read the column online, click HERE.

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