The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) upcoming air pollution regulation revisions are creating a bit of a stir both in the energy industry and in Congress. The emissions that would fall under more stringent limits are ozone, mercury, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide; coal ash waste; and water used to cool facilities that generate electricity.
Many see the new scheme as one that will unduly burden the power industry, even forcing shut downs of numerous coal-fired plants altogether. Estimated costs of compliance for utility companies are up to $129 billion, with a reduction of up to 81,000 megawatts of electricity generation. Then there’s the jobs at stake. A Commerce Department analysis predicted a loss of 60,000 jobs due to the EPA’s rulings.
With 45 percent of America’s electricity being coal-fired -- a resource that is abundant and cheap with at least a 200-year supply available in the States -- these new EPA regulations seem a direct attack on not only the power companies, but on consumers. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which is responsible for the reliability of the electric system warns that over-regulation of fossil-fueled electricity generation will make it difficult for companies to meet electric demand.
There are at least three proposed bills that could rein in the EPA on this. One is H.R.910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, which has already been approved by the House in a 255-172 vote, and was referred to the Senate. Many claim it has no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled chamber.
Another is H.R. 2018, the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011, “To amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act” which also passed the House 239-184 and was referred to the Senate. Many claim that this one, too, will not pass the full Senate.
And then there's the REINS Act, S. 299, the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2011, introduced by Sen. Rand Paul, (R-Ky.). Not specifically tailored for the EPA, this bill would rein in all unaccountable federal agencies. Cosponsored by Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), it would require Congressional approval of any interim or final regulation from the Executive Branch bureaucracy that costs more than $100 million per year or that excessively increases costs or prices or has “significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or U.S. competitiveness.” This popular measure already has 28 sponsors and hearings completed. There is a companion bill in the House, H.R. 10, that has garnered 159 cosponsors.
House Republicans and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have vowed to bring up bills after the summer recess that would repeal or restrict federal regulations, and Cantor intends on starting with a proposal to delay the implementation of these new EPA rules. But we can do better than just delay the rules.
Contact your Senators and Representative and get them to support and pass this common-sense legislation that would REIN in the damaging effects to our utilities, the economy and jobs by a host of unelected czars and their bureaucratic agencies. Make specific mention of the EPA as one of the most out-of-control and draconian agencies within the federal government that needs to be relieved of its regulating power. And pressure the Senate into taking action on the already-passed House bills.