House Hearing on EPA Rules and Draft Legislation

November 13, 2013

pic-energy-powerOn Thursday, Nov. 14, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for new power plants, as well as the Whitfield-Manchin draft legislation, which would help rein in EPA’s authority to regulate carbon emissions from new and existing power plants. The witnesses scheduled to testify include, among others, Sen. Joe Manchin (D – W.Va.) and Janet McCabe, Acting Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Office of Air and Radiation.  The aforementioned regulations were issued on Sept. 20, 2013 and are the first national emissions limits on CO2 with respect to future power plants.

In addition to what is expected to be a lively discussion on EPA’s proposed rules, the Committee also plans to discuss recently released draft legislation from Congressman Ed Whitfield (R – Ky.) and Senator Joe Manchin (D – W.Va.) aimed at curbing EPA’s ability to move forward with regulations setting emissions standards for new and existing power plants without Congressional consideration.

The following is a brief summary of what the legislation would do, as provided by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

“New Power Plants: Any rule establishing GHG standards for new power plants may not be issued unless the EPA Administrator: 1) establishes separate standards for natural gas and coal-fired plants; 2) sets standards for the coal category that have been achieved over a one-year period by at least 6 units located at different commercial power plants in the United States; and 3) establishes a subcategory for coal-fired plants that use lignite coal and sets standards that have been achieved over a one-year period by at least 3 units located at different commercial power plants in the United States.

Existing Power Plants: Any rule establishing GHG standards or guidelines applicable to modified, reconstructed, or existing plants shall not take effect unless a federal law is enacted specifying the effective date.

Report to Congress: For any rule establishing GHG standards or guidelines applicable to modified, reconstructed, and existing plants, the EPA Administrator shall submit a report to Congress regarding the proposed rule, its economic impacts, and the projected effects on global GHG emissions.

Earlier Rules: Repeals EPA’s prior proposed rules to establish GHG standards for new power plants.”

NSBA believes that adequate, reliable and affordable energy is a key factor in promoting job creation, new business formation and sustainable economic growth for America’s entrepreneurs and small business community. Keeping electricity and heating costs at a minimum is critical to helping small businesses adapt and remain viable in an increasingly competitive global economy.  According to a the NSBA’s 2011 Energy Survey, more than 90 percent of respondents said that they were concerned with the future energy costs of running their businesses and 87 percent said that rising and/or volatile energy prices have a negative impact on their companies.  NSBA firmly believes that it is in the country’s best interests to pursue an all-of-the-above strategy to achieve adequate and affordable energy from stable and reliable sources while at the same time preventing adverse health effects from pollution and ensuring that any new policy does not place a disproportionate burden on small firms.

For additional information, please see the Committee’s hearing memo (which includes a section-by-section summary of the legislation). You can also watch the hearing live by clicking here.