Energy and Commerce Leaders Press Administration Regarding EPA's Costly Utility Rule

December 13, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - Leaders on the Energy and Commerce Committee continue to raise concerns regarding the Environmental Protection Agency's pending Utility MACT rule. Recent analyses conclude this new rule, together with other EPA pending or recently finalized power sector rules, will threaten the reliability of the nation's electric grid and increase electricity prices. Although these concerns have not been fully reviewed and adequately addressed by EPA, a final rule is expected in the coming days. Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) are asking the administration's top regulatory official, Cass Sunstein, to address these reliability and cost concerns in the regulatory review process.

In a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget, the members write, "We remain deeply concerned that EPA's analysis and interagency coordination relating to this rule have been insufficient to inform EPA, Congress, or the public about whether this regulation poses unacceptable risks to the public health, welfare, or safety.  We are also concerned that the regulation falls substantially short of President Obama's requirement that regulations promote economic growth, competitiveness and job creation."

A recent analysis by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation projects EPA's power sector rules will present significant reliability risks to regions across the country. NERC estimates up to 59 gigawatts (GW) of generation are at risk of retirement or capacity reduction by 2018. This is in addition to 38 GW of generation that has already been announced to retire. This reduction in our electricity supply is likely to increase electricity prices beyond already rising rates. The members are concerned EPA has not fully reviewed and addressed the concerns of NERC, federal agencies, state public utility commissions, and regional and local planning authorities. 

Upton, Whitfield, and Stearns reference previous correspondence from the committee with EPA seeking information on the extent to which the agency consulted with federal, state and local entities on reliability concerns. To date, the agency has failed to provide a complete response to those inquiries.

For a copy of the letter, click here.