U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan tramples states’ authority over their own power sectors, would drive up costs and is based on unsound science, outgoing Senate Environment and Public Works Committee ranking member David Vitter (R-La.) argued in comments submitted to the agency today.
Vitter provided EPA with copies of letters, reports and witness testimony to argue that the draft “bullies states into implementing expensive programs with questionable benefits, whether they like it or not.”
“The rule would result in higher electricity bills for families, schools, hospitals, and businesses across the United States, and at the end of the day the people who will be hurt most are low-income families and the elderly,” Vitter contended in a statement accompanying the comments. EPA’s deadline for public comment on the draft is next Monday.
The senator’s submission included a “letter from 41 GOP senators released soon after the June 2 proposal asking EPA to rescind it.
“In your haste to drive coal and eventually natural gas from the generation portfolio, your administration has disregarded whether EPA even has the legal authority under the Clean Air Act to move forward with this proposal,” they wrote. They added that the environmental benefits of the rule are “dubious.”
The point is reinforced in the other documents Vitter submitted: two subsequent EPW Committee papers that take aim at the legal basis for EPA’s proposal and the written testimony of perennial GOP science hearing invitees Judith Curry, a man-made warming skeptic and professor at the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Bjørn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, who argues that warming will have relatively little adverse impact. Both have appeared before the Senate panel in the last year and are likely to be frequent visitors now that Republicans will hold the majority in the upper chamber.
Vitter is not the only Senate climate combatant who has submitted comment ahead of EPA’s deadline. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) posted to the rule’s docket arguing that while human activity is affecting the climate, the federal government should respond with investment in advanced energy technology rather than with harsh regulation.
“I have said again and again that the federal government needs to work as an ally, not as an adversary, when it comes to developing our nation’s energy policies,” he said. Manchin, a leading congressional ally of the coal industry, levels no specific criticisms against the rule but calls for a “reasonable compromise.”
Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) called the draft rule “unworkable” in comments of his own. His state’s coal industry would be adversely affected if the rule became final, he said. The regulation would even stymie industry efforts to develop carbon capture and sequestration that will allow coal to limit its emissions — and to comply with a separate EPA standard for future power plants.
“The pathway from developing technically feasible innovations to deploying commercially viable technologies has occurred over the long-term,” he said. “The EPA’s artificial implementation timetable short-circuits this innovation pipeline and imposes unrealistic standards that will prevent the adoption of future, cleaner technologies.”
EPA’s draft asks North Dakota to reduce its emissions less than any other covered state. It assigns North Dakota a 2030 carbon intensity standard of 1,783 pounds per megawatt-hour — a cut of just over 10 percent compared with 2012 levels.
The draft does not dictate how states would meet their targets, but it is stringent enough to require them to do so through some combination of measures that stretch beyond the fence line of a power plant.
The senators’ arguments are a preview of the comments that continue to flow into the dockets from opponents of the EPA draft. Supporters of the draft say that any cost to fossil fuel developers — like the lignite producers Hoeven references — would be more than offset by its boost to renewable energy, energy efficiency and other employers. And while the rule might push electricity rates upward slightly, power bills will go down as efficiency measures reduce demand, they say.
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