House Members Predict ‘Devastating Impact' On Jobs, Economy From Power Plant Rule

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By Andrew Childers  

A pending Environmental Protection Agency rule to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants could have a “devastating impact” on job growth and the economy, more than 200 members of the House said in a Feb. 23 letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The letter to Jeffrey Zients, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, said EPA's pending new source performance standards for greenhouse gas emissions from power plants could require new generating units to use costly control technologies such as carbon capture and storage.

The House members, led by Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), questioned whether EPA's proposal would comply with President Obama's Exec. Order No. 13,563, which requires federal agencies to ensure that all regulations are cost-effective.

“Affordable, reliable electricity is critical to keeping and growing jobs in the United States and such a standard will likely drive up energy prices and threaten domestic jobs,” the letter said.

OMB Received Proposal in November

OMB has been reviewing the power plant proposal since Nov. 7. The review is typically the last step before a regulation is proposed (217 DEN A-3, 11/9/11).

EPA agreed in 2010 to issue the power plant rule as part of a legal settlement with the Natural Resources Defense Council, other environmental groups, and some states (New York v. EPA, D.C. Cir., No. 06-1322, 12/23/10).

EPA has missed two court deadlines to propose the rule, and the agency is negotiating with plaintiffs on a new deadline to issue the rule.

New source performance standards are technology-based emissions limits issued under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act. The performance standards will apply to new and modified power plants. EPA has said it has no plans to regulate emissions from existing power plants.

House Republicans previously asked OMB to block the power plant rule in a separate Feb. 1 letter (22 DEN A-3, 2/3/12).

EPA also agreed to issue new source performance standards for petroleum refineries as part of a separate settlement (American Petroleum Institute v. EPA, D.C. Cir., No. 08-1277, 12/23/10).

For More Information

The House letter on EPA's new source performance standards for greenhouse gas emissions from power plants is available at http://whitfield.house.gov/sites/whitfield.house.gov/files/GHG%20Whitfield%20Barrow%20letter.pdf.