Subcommittee Begins Oversight of EPA’s Power Plan

June 19, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Energy and Power, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), today held a hearing to examine EPA’s proposed new carbon dioxide regulations for existing power plants. On June 2, the administration rolled out EPA’s “Clean Power Plan” – a proposed rule for existing power plants that will force states to change the way they generate and distribute power. Members questioned EPA Acting Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe about the scope of EPA’s proposal, its legality and feasibility, and potential impacts on U.S. economic growth and the global climate.

“This is the first opportunity Congress has had to hear directly from the agency exactly why it thinks it can issue this proposal, what it thinks the proposal should do, and how the proposal will be implemented,” said Chairman Whitfield. “This will not be our only opportunity to take testimony on the proposal or to hear from the agency. This is just the beginning of what we can assure to be a deliberate, careful oversight of the agency’s regulatory action.”

EPA’s proposed rule sets emissions requirements for each state. McCabe repeatedly asserted that states would have “flexibility” in compliance and stated that the rule was “not an energy plan for the states,” yet members countered that the rule would force states to completely redesign their electricity systems with limited options. The result would be higher energy costs, more job losses, and impaired electric reliability. “What EPA describes as flexibility is really the agency giving itself arbitrary authority to regulate electricity generation and use as it sees fit,” said Whitfield.

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) compared EPA’s promises for its power plant proposal to the administration’s failed promises of Obamacare. He criticized the administration for misleading the American people about the plan’s impact on jobs and energy prices and overall feasibility and flexibility, saying, “You may say you don’t demand something, but the inherent nature of the rule - the only way it can be reached without the federal government’s squeezing the state - will be to shut down coal.” Watch HERE.

Members also pressed McCabe over EPA’s oversight role over the state plans. Full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) highlighted recent statements by West Virginia’s governor that indicated all coal-fired plants could be forced to shut down under EPA’s rule. When asked how EPA would enforce its plan over the states, McCabe responded, “I think that states are going to want to be in the lead.” Watch HERE.

Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) highlighted the hardships states would face in complying with EPA’s plan, and questioned EPA’s assumptions about electricity generation in states. Shimkus also asked what would happen if EPA did not approve a state’s implementation plan. She replied, “EPA will move forward with a plan. ... We are not focused on that right now." Watch the full exchange HERE.

Upton concluded, “As with the health law, another train wreck is coming - unless Congress does something about it. It’s time to start being honest with the American people about this expensive power plan, and that process started with today’s hearing.”

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