Lawmakers, state regulators to take fresh aim at EPA rule

Source: Daniel Bush, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, September 8, 2015

House Republicans on a key environment subcommittee will take aim at U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan this week as critics continue their assault on the controversial regulation.

GOP lawmakers on the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Environment are expected to slam the agency’s rule at a hearing Friday titled “How EPA’s Power Plan Will Shut Down Power Plants.”

Chairman Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) has been a vocal critic of the final rule, which was rolled out last month, just days after House members left town for the August recess.

The plan would reduce carbon emissions from power plants 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Most Democrats and environmental organizations back the rule, while Republicans and industry groups say it would hurt the energy sector and have vowed to block it from taking effect.

At a full committee hearing in June, Bridenstine seized on a U.S. Energy Information Administration report on the costs and benefits of the plan to argue that it would hurt the economy and drive up electricity costs for low-income ratepayers (Greenwire, June 24).

“This is a continuation of the administration’s ‘war on the poor,'” Bridenstine said at the time. He added that while members of Congress “might be able to absorb higher electricity rates, many of our constituents do not have that ability.”

The full committee’s chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), also criticized the rule at the hearing and warned that it could have “little environmental impact.”

Bridenstine, Smith and other House Republicans appear poised to step up their attacks on the rule this fall as opponents search for ways to kill it at the federal and state levels.

Last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) became the latest GOP governor to come out against the plan, announcing that his state will seek a stay on the rule (Greenwire, Sept. 3).

Schedule: The hearing is Friday, Sept. 11, at 9 a.m. in 2318 Rayburn.

Witness: Bryan Shaw, chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; Craig Butler, director of the Ohio EPA; and Jason Esidorfer, utility program director of the Oregon Public Utility Commission.