House Votes to Stop New EPA Power Plant Rules

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives, including West Virginia’s delegation, voted Tuesday to void Environmental Protection Agency regulations for new and existing power plants.

The House voted 242-180 to repeal the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which puts carbon emissions limits on existing plants, and 235-188 to block the federal agency’s rules governing emissions from new plants.

Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., took to the House floor Monday night -- ahead of Tuesday’s vote -- to urge his colleagues to vote yes this week on the two resolutions.

“This week we will join together with the House to send President Obama and the EPA a strong message -- no more attacks on coal. No more attacks on domestic energy. No more attacks on the people who produce energy,” he said.

Jenkins said the EPA’s regulations will not only cost thousands of coal miners their jobs but also raise electricity prices on those who can least afford it.

“Not only will the EPA’s plan destroy jobs, but it will increase utility costs for consumers and lead to higher household electricity bills for all American families,” he said. “Our seniors, the middle class, and Americans on fixed incomes should not have to bear the burden of increased costs. Our economy is still struggling to recover. People are struggling to survive.”

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., applauded the House vote.

“Hard-working families cannot afford these crushing regulations that threaten jobs and affordable energy while doing little to actually improve the environment,” Capito said in a statement. “Sending these resolutions to the president’s desk is an important step in the fight against the harmful Clean Power Plan, and shows that any international climate deal reached in Paris will be met with skepticism here at home.

“World leaders should be cautious about entering into a deal with an administration whose misguided policies lack the backing of a bipartisan majority in Congress.”

The votes come two weeks after the Senate approved nearly identical legislation.

The bills are now headed to President Barack Obama’s desk.

Though the White House has promised to veto the bills, Capito said the passage of the resolutions sends a “strong signal” in the midst of the international climate negotiations in Paris that the president’s climate policies do not have the backing of Congress.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey also praised West Virginia’s delegation, including Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Jenkins, for trying to block the “cascade of regulations” that, he argues, is left intact will destroy West Virginia’s coal industry, leave countless West Virginians without work and lead to skyrocketing electricity costs.

“These bipartisan votes, both in the House and Senate, join court challenges brought by West Virginia and 26 partnering states, as Republicans, Democrats, miners, boilermakers, operators, businesses and consumers tell the world that President Obama does not have the authority to enact such destructive, job-killing regulations.”

The attorney general, who is leading a coalition of 23 other states in a lawsuit to strike down the federal agency’s new rule, said he believes the Clean Power Plan unlawfully expands the federal government’s regulatory power over electricity production and consumption in nearly every state.

Last month, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin broke rank with fellow Democrats and voted to pass the Senate resolution to stop the Obama administration from imposing anti-coal regulations on new coal-fired power plants.

West Virginia’s senior senator also voted to pass a separate resolution, introduced by Capito and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., to prevent the administration from moving forward with its proposed anti-coal regulations for existing coal-fired plants.

Manchin, along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., introduced the resolution on new power plants. He co-sponsored Capito and Heitkamp’s resolution on existing plants.

Capito voted with the bipartisan majority of the Senate to pass Manchin’s resolution.

Both resolutions passed by a vote of 52 to 46.

A resolution of disapproval filed under the Congressional Review Act is a legally binding resolution that provides Congress the ability to eliminate onerous regulations imposed by the executive branch through an expedited procedure for consideration in the Senate.

In this case, if both resolutions are enacted into law, they would eliminate both pillars of the administration’s power plan, even if portions of the plan have already gone into effect.

Under the EPA’s rule, new large natural gas-fired turbines need to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, while new small natural gas-fired turbines need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour.

New coal-fired units need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, and have the option to meet a somewhat tighter limit if they choose to average emissions over multiple years, giving those units additional operational flexibility.

By:  Jessica Karmasek
Source: West Virginia Record