More Than 120 Groups Report Lobbying Congress on Existing Power Plant Regulations

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By Anthony Adragna    

July 22 --At least 120 groups ranging from large publicly traded companies to environmental organizations continued strong lobbying efforts directed at Congress this quarter on the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed regulations to curb carbon pollution from power plants.

Many of those groups focused their attention on legislation in the Senate (S. 1905) that would curtail the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants--seen by many as the best legislative opportunity to blunt the regulations--but it remains unlikely that the chamber will consider the bill this year.

The lead Senate sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), told Bloomberg BNA he hadn't heard anything from leadership recently about potential floor consideration of his legislation, but he said he continues to hope for an opportunity this year.

Among the groups that reported lobbying on the carbon pollution standards were the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, Waste Management Inc., Duke Energy Corp., Southern Co., Caterpillar Inc. and Chevron Corp.

Lobbying from environmental groups appeared to increase during the quarter as the Sierra Club, Earthjustice, the Southern Environmental Law Center, the League of Conservation Voters, the Nature Conservancy, the Clean Air Task Force and others reported lobbying on the carbon pollution standards.

Second Quarter of Sustained Interest.

It marks the second consecutive quarter with sustained, intense interest on the EPA's efforts to reduce carbon pollution from both future and existing power plants. During the first quarter of 2014, at least 110 companies reported lobbying Congress on carbon pollution standards .

Companies lobbying on the rules were identified by Bloomberg BNA through a search of lobbying records with the keywords “greenhouse gases,” “EPA GHG,” “power plants,” “carbon pollution,” “Clean Power Plan,” “111(d)” or the numbers of the Senate and House bills.

On June 2, the EPA proposed regulations that call for the reduction in total carbon dioxide emissions from the existing power plant sector by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The agency would do so by setting state-specific emissions rates that would need to be achieved by the power sector.

States could reach those goals through a number of strategies, including switching from coal-fired units to lower-emitting natural gas-fired generators, encouraging increased use of renewable energy, participating in regional emissions trading programs or reducing demand for electricity.

Proposal Said to Kill Jobs, Increase Costs.

Groups and members of Congress with heavy coal interests have said the proposal will kill jobs and increase electricity prices with few discernible climate benefits. They have pursued resolutions of disapproval and legislation to halt the regulations with limited success to date.

House members approved the Electricity Security and Affordability Act (H.R. 3826), a companion to Manchin's Senate bill, on a largely party-line vote March 6. The bill would bar the EPA from setting emissions limits for new power plants until carbon capture and storage technologies have been successfully demonstrated at six different sites for at least a year.

Under the bill, the EPA also would be barred from regulating emissions from existing power plants until Congress passes legislation specifically authorizing it to do so.

Multiple other industry groups reported lobbying on the carbon pollution regulations, including the American Petroleum Institute, the Council of Industrial Boiler Owners, the American Forest and Paper Association, the American Iron and Steel Institute, the American Public Power Association, the Edison Electric Institute, the National Mining Association and the Association of American Railroads.

Business, States Lobby Congress.

Business groups, including the National Federation of Independent Business, the National Small Business Association, Americans for Tax Reform, the Business Council for Sustainable Energy and the Business Roundtable, all reported lobbying on the EPA regulations as well.

Several states, unions and electric cooperatives also reported lobbying on the power plant standards.

Intense lobbying in Congress comes as the EPA continues to conduct intense outreach of its own in shaping the standards. The agency's top air official, Janet McCabe, said July 17 that top officials had conducted “dozens” of meetings since the June 2 release of the proposed rule .

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Adragna in Washington at aadragna@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com