Committee Leaders Express Outrage over EPA's Plan to Attack Affordable American Energy

March 27, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency today issued a controversial proposed rule that would add to the tangle of regulatory red tape already imposed by other new rules affecting utilities, effectively forming a backdoor energy tax on American families and businesses. Energy and Commerce Committee leaders responded to the first-of-its-kind rule for greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, decrying the Obama administration's unprecedented regulatory reach that could spell an end to the use of coal, an abundant and affordable American energy resource, to power homes and businesses.

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have warned administration officials about the consequences of this rule. Among the members' concerns is the fact that new coal-fired utilities would be required to adopt technologies that are not commercially viable -essentially ending the construction of new coal-fired utilities. Earlier this year, a bipartisan group of 221 House members wrote to Jeffrey Zeints, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget, requesting the regulation be withdrawn because of the detrimental effect it will have on electricity rates, jobs, and the economy.

"This rule is part of the Obama administration's aggressive plan to change America's energy portfolio and eliminate coal as a source of affordable, reliable electricity generation. EPA continues to overstep its authority and ram through a series of overreaching regulations in its attack on America's power sector. This rule effectively bans new coal plants and sets the stage for higher electricity prices in many regions of the country, which is precisely what Congress and the American public rejected with the failure of cap-and-trade legislation," said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). "President Obama likes to say he is for "˜all of the above' American energy, but his policies prove otherwise."

"I am gravely concerned about the proposed regulation's impact on jobs and the economy," said Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Chairman of the Energy and Power Subcommittee. "President Obama and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson are circumventing the will of Congress and the American people by moving forward with a standard today that threatens our most abundant, reliable, and affordable domestic electricity source - coal.  President Obama is also putting our economy at risk at a time when it is most vulnerable. Congress has said no to regulating greenhouse gases because of the impact it will have on the economy, and what we are seeing is that EPA's regulations already are having a devastating impact on jobs and supply. We're seeing coal-fired electricity plants close and will likely see electricity rates skyrocket because of other EPA regulations and the greenhouse gas standards will only make matters worse."

In addition to effectively preventing any new coal-fired generation, EPA has also taken action to shut down any existing coal plants across the country. In recent months, EPA has issued two extremely costly rules that will force early retirement of our nation's existing coal fleet. In December, EPA announced the Utility MACT rule, estimated by the agency to cost $9.6 billion dollars annually. EPA has not responded to congressional requests for the total cost of that rule, but economists estimate the costs will exceed $94 billion. Last July, EPA announced the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, estimated by the agency to impose compliance costs of $1.4 billion in 2012 and $800 million in 2014. Since 2010, coal plants operating in Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wisconsin have announced over 36 gigawatts of generation capacity that will be taken offline due to EPA's rules. More EPA rules and more EPA-driven plant closures are anticipated. 

On April 7, 2011, the House passed a bipartisan measure, H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, to prevent EPA from advancing its climate change agenda through costly and ineffective regulations that would increase utility rates, send manufacturing jobs overseas, and hamstring our economic recovery. On September 23, 2011 the House approved H.R. 2401, the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act, or TRAIN Act, to require that the administration examine the cumulative impacts of these and other costly rules on jobs, energy prices, and the economy. Both bills passed the House with bipartisan support and await action in the Senate.

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