05.05.15

Capito Chairs Hearing Examining Legal Implications of Clean Power Plan

 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee’s Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, today chaired a hearing examining the legal implications of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
 
Senator Capito delivered the following opening statement at today’s hearing:
 
“Thank you all for being here today for the first Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee hearing on EPA’s Clean Power Plan.  I would like to thank all of our witnesses for appearing before us today, and say a special thank you to my state’s Attorney General, Patrick Morrisey, who has been leading the national legal fight against this rule, which would have such devastating impacts on our home state of West Virginia. 
 
“Back in February, in a full committee hearing in this room, I asked EPA Acting Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe to explain why the EPA did not hold a public hearing on its proposed Clean Power Plan in West Virginia, despite the large role coal has in our economy and our electricity generation, and despite the multiple invitations by federal and state legislators.
 
“She told me public hearings were held where people were ‘comfortable’ going.  That response is unacceptable to me and to the people of my state.  As Attorney General Morrisey will also point out in his testimony, this rule will have devastating impact on our state, other coal producing states, electricity rate payers across the country and the reliability of our grid.  
 
“We know from nearly five decades of experience that the Clean Air Act works best when implemented in the spirit of cooperative federalism. When the federal government works with the states as partners, we can, and have, improved air quality and protected our economy and our electricity grid at the same time.
 
“However, the Clean Power does none of this.  Instead, we have EPA dictating to states and effectively micromanaging intrastate electricity policy decisions to a degree even the agency admits is unprecedented. This raises a broad array of legal issues and is, quite simply, bad policy. 
 
“As a result, many states—including West Virginia and Oklahoma, whose Attorneys General we will be hearing from today--have raised grave concerns about the legality of the rule and the implications for their citizens and ratepayers. In addition to significant Constitutional and other legal questions, states have expressed concerns about the feasibility of EPA’s proposed requirements and the likely impacts on electricity costs and reliability. 
  
“At risk is the ability that states have always had to make decisions about their electricity generation. West Virginia has chosen to rely on coal to provide affordable and reliable electricity for our consumers and businesses.  As a result, we have some of the lowest electricity rates in the nation. Other states make different choices that best serve their citizens. But under the Clean Power Plan, each state’s electricity plan would have to meet EPA’s criteria for reducing carbon dioxide emissions and be approved by EPA.  
 
“Other EPA regulations like the Utility MACT rule have already contributed to rising electric rates and growing concerns about reliability. With the economy still far from fully recovered, the last thing job creators need is another expensive regulation likely to drive up energy prices. And the last thing our families and senior citizens need is to see their electric bills continue to go up.  
 
“Next week I will be introducing greenhouse gas legislation with my colleagues that will preserve the proper balance of state and federal authority, help ensure reliable and affordable electricity, and protect jobs and our economy. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the committee to advance this bill and prevent the devastating impacts of continued EPA overreach.” 

Witnesses at the EPW Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee hearing, “Legal Implications of the Clean Power Plan,”  include: West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey; Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt; Roger Martella, Jr., Partner, Sidley Austin LLP; Kelly Speakes-Backman, Commissioner of the Maryland Public Service Commission and Chair of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Inc. Board of Directors; Lisa Heinzerling, Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center.
 
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