Ohio Set to Lay into EPA at Hearing
House Speaker John Boehner’s home state of Ohio will lay into the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate rules Friday, joining other states’ environmental commissioners to testify on the problems with the Obama administration’s strict rules for power plants.
Craig Butler, the head of Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency, will testify before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s environmental subcommittee, giving his state’s perspective on “How EPA’s power plan will shut down power plants,” the title of the Friday’s hearing.
Ohio is a strong opponent of the EPA Clean Power Plan, which places states on the hook to reduce emissions by one-third by 2030. Utilities have said the efficiency improvements to coal plants that EPA calls for under the regulation are next to impossible.
The plan also calls for ramping up renewable energy to supplant fossil energy such as coal and oil, which the White House says is meant to “decarbonize” the grid. The coal industry says “decarbonize” translates into coal plant closures.
Butler was appointed by Republican Gov. John Kasich, who is now running for president. Butler has criticized the EPA’s climate plan, submitting comments to the EPA on both the technical and legal hurdles the rule faces. Ohio’s attorney general joined a group of 15 states led by West Virginia in opposing the EPA’s climate change plan in federal appeals court.
The lawsuit should be discussed during the hearing, given both Butler’s understanding of the law and that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals late Wednesday rejected Ohio’s request for the court to stay the EPA rule. Ohio joined with Michigan, Florida, Georgia, West Virginia and Nebraska in asking for the stay. Much of the electricity produced in those states is derived from coal power plants.
The court said in a one-page decision that states had not met the high legal requirements needed to win an emergency stay of a government regulation.
Butler in comments to EPA in December warned that the court has not been kind to federal regulators that encroach on the jurisdiction of states, and that many of the problems he finds with the rules stem from overreach. Previous D.C. Circuit Court decisions demonstrate that federal regulators do not “have unbounded authority to regulate electric markets that traditionally have been left to the states.”
Ohio and the group of 15 states are champing at the bit to sue the agency again as soon as the Clean Power Plan is published in the Federal Register and submitted to Congress. The Justice Department and EPA told the court last week that it won’t publish for a few months, pushing off litigation until the end of the year.
Butler will be joined on Friday’s panel by Bryan Shaw, the chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and Jason Eisdorfer, the utility program director for the Oregon Public Utility Commission. Texas has been an outspoken critic of the plan and says it will fight EPA in court even though the agency lowered its emission target in the final rule. Oregon, on the other hand, has been supportive of the rule.
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- On September 11, 2015