The Week Ahead: House Subcommittees to Hold Hearings on EPA Proposed Carbon Dioxide Limits on Power Plants


How carbon dioxide regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency will impact jobs in coal-dependent states and how technology to capture carbon is evolving are among the questions House subcommittees will address in hearings the week of Oct. 28.

As covered in an Oct. 23 Energy and Climate Reportarticle, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hear directly from members of coal communities affected by standards proposed by the EPA for new power plants.

As detailed in a Sept. 20 article, the EPA proposed separate emission standards for new coal- and natural gas-fired units at power plants. The EPA also is expected to issue by June 2014 a similar proposed rule for existing power plants that would be implemented by states through regulations based on federal guidelines.

In addition to killing jobs in coal-dependent states, opponents of the EPA regulations claim that carbon capture and storage technology, which they say would need to be used to meet the standards, is not yet commercially available, and as such, will prevent the addition or expansion of coal-burning power plants.

Meanwhile, the House Science, Space and Technology subcommittees on Environment and Energy will hold a joint hearing Oct. 29 on "EPA Power Plant Regulations: Is the Technology Ready?"

As covered in an Oct. 24 article, a Congressional Research Service report found that while carbon capture technology will likely be commercially available for power plants in 2020 or earlier, widespread deployment will largely hinge on the government's ability to manage costs by creating a market.

Energy Bill on House Agenda

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing Oct. 29 on the North American Energy Infrastructure Act (H.R. 3301)

The bill, introduced Oct. 22 by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), would require federal approval for the construction, connection and operation or maintenance of oil or natural gas pipelines or electric transmission facilities at U.S. borders for the import or export of oil, natural gas or electricity to or from Canada or Mexico.

Additional details of the bill are included in a Sept. 24 article.

House Subcommittee to Hold Hydropower Hearing

On Oct. 29, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power will hold an oversight hearing on "A Roadmap for Increasing Our Water and Hydropower Supplies: the Need for New or Expanded Multi-Purpose Surface Storage Facilities.”

As detailed in an Oct. 22 article, a new law, The Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act, was signed into law Aug. 9. It requires the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to consider the feasibility of a two-year licensing process for hydropower projects at non-powered dams and closed-loop pumped storage sites.

The EPA to Host Listening Session

The EPA is scheduled to hold a listening session Oct. 30 in Denver on its proposed rule for carbon dioxide from power plants. The agency has scheduled a total of 11 sessions. Sessions were held Oct. 23 in New York City and Atlanta. Sessions will be held Nov. 4 in Boston and Lenexa, Kan.; Nov. 5 in San Francisco; Nov. 7 in Dallas, Seattle and Washington; and Nov. 8 in Chicago and Philadelphia.

Mexico to Consider Carbon Tax

Mexico's Congress is scheduled to vote on a tax package Oct. 31 that would include a carbon tax on the sale and import of fossil fuels based on their carbon content.

As detailed in a Sept. 16 article, industry groups oppose the proposal, which the Mexican government said would help the country boost its tax proceeds and shift its competitive foundation from one based on the combustion of fossil fuel to one based on green energy.

Other Energy, Climate Events

The EPA will host a webinar Oct. 30 on "Energy Efficiency in Water and Wastewater Facilities." According to the agency, the facilities are among the largest consumers of energy, accounting for 35 percent of typical U.S. municipal budgets.

The law firm Ballard Spahr LLP will hold a seminar on "Green Infrastructure: New Opportunities and Trends" Oct. 28 in Philadelphia. The event will be held via simulcast in Washington, Pittsburgh and New York. The seminar will cover Superstorm Sandy and lessons learned from climate change.

"Sandy One Year Later: Looking to the Future" will be the topic of an event hosted Oct. 29 in West Long Beach, N.J., by New Jersey Future, Monmouth University, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the New Jersey Recovery Fund. Speakers include former governors James Florio and Christine Todd Whitman.

The group Environmental Entrepreneurs will hold two events Oct. 29. "Water Wise: Meeting Colorado's Water Challenges will be held in Denver and will cover a recently released report, "Colorado Water Supply and Climate Change: A Business Perspective." The other event, "Mission Critical: Clean Energy and the U.S. Military" will be held in New York City.