Senators prod EEI board over EPA carbon rule lawsuit

Source: By Peter Behr, E&E News • Posted: Sunday, June 23, 2024

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Brian Schatz questioned utility CEOs on the Edison Electric Institute board about the decision to sue over the Biden rule.

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) is the chair of the Senate Budget Committee. Francis Chung/POLITICO

The Edison Electric Institute’s decision to take EPA to court over its rule limiting power sector carbon emissions is under scrutiny by two Democratic senators seeking to reconcile conflicting views of utility executives on the EEI board of directors.

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Brian Schatz of Hawaii sent a letter Thursday to the chair of EEI and two other top utility executives on its board asking for more information about how the lawsuit squares with the emissions goals of their three companies — all of which support a transition to a low-carbon electric grid.

The letter went to Pedro Pizarro, chief executive of Edison International, parent company of Southern California Edison, and the outgoing chair of EEI; the new chair, Maria Pope, chief executive of Portland General Electric, Oregon’s largest investor-owned utility; and Calvin Butler, CEO of Chicago-based Exelon and EEI’s vice chair.

EEI’s action comes as a presidential election kicks off with climate change as one of the most unbridgeable policy differences between President Joe Biden and his likely opponent, former President Donald Trump. It places the organization of large utilities supplying power to 250 million Americans at odds with the regulation key to meeting zero-carbon climate goals under the Biden administratio