Business groups launch coalition to fight EPA regs

Source: Jason Plautz, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014

Business groups representing manufacturing, mining, agriculture and utility interests today launched a multimillion-dollar coalition to fight U.S. EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations and advocate for regulatory reforms.

The Partnership for a Better Energy Future comprises 78 stakeholders concerned about the economic impact of President Obama’s climate plan, which they say will ripple out to touch all sectors of industry. The rules limiting carbon emissions from new and existing power plants are just the start, they warned.

“To remain competitive in a global economy, manufacturers need an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy to ensure they have access to affordable and reliable energy,” said Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers. “Unfortunately, this administration seems to believe that the only way to reduce [greenhouse gas] emissions is to eliminate fossil fuels from our economy.

“We must convince the administration to make better choices as it begins to regulate [greenhouse gases]. Through this coalition, we hope to do so,” Timmons added.

NAM and the Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy are the co-chairs of the group, which also includes heavyweights like the American Petroleum Institute, the Fertilizer Institute and the National Mining Association.

The goal, the group said, is to create and promote a “unified strategy and message” from across the industrial sphere, something members said has been missing in the past. Doing so could include engaging with the administration during the regulatory process, supporting legislation to block or amend EPA rules and potentially filing litigation after rules are enacted.

Karen Harbert, president of the Institute for 21st Century Energy, said the group would “block anything that is not in the interest of the American economy” but added that the goal was to try to influence the rulemaking process and communicate to the administration the “substance” of industry concerns.

Dave McCurdy, president of the American Gas Association, likened the ideal role to that of automakers during the negotiations of fuel economy and greenhouse gas rules for light-duty vehicles. By sitting at the table and expressing their substantive concerns, McCurdy said, automakers were able to work with the White House and craft a final rule that was agreeable to both sides.

But David Di Martino, a consultant on climate issues, cautioned that the “big polluter front group” would simply continue to push an anti-EPA agenda and would “spend millions pushing these tea party policies.”

“This new coalition will put the interests of the big polluters before the lives of the American people,” Di Martino said.

None of the groups in the partnership is a stranger to fighting EPA regulations, and many have found themselves engaged in litigation against the administration over various environmental rules. By bringing so many stakeholders behind a single message, the groups said, they hope to increase their volume.

The partnership also represents sectors of the economy that may not be directly touched by the regulations on coal-fired power plants but are concerned that the administration may soon turn to them. Hal Quinn, president of the National Mining Association, warned of a “bad precedent” set by the power plant rules that could trickle to other energy sources or plants.

Speaking this morning on MSNBC, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy reiterated the administration’s position that the agency’s greenhouse gas rules would not harm the economy and said the agency has listened to industry concerns.

“We are looking at opportunities for job growth,” McCarthy said on “The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd.” “We can actually do this in a way that makes sense for everybody, including consistent with our economic growth opportunities.”