Legislation adopted by the House Energy Committee last week by a 29-19 vote would restrict EPA authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate a reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing coal-powered power plants.
The Electricity Security and Affordability Act (H.R. 3826) was introduced by Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and has 72 co-sponsors, including 66 Republicans.
Whitfield, who represents a major coal-producing district and chairs the Energy and Power Subcommittee, says his bill would protect an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy by directing EPA to adopt workable standards for new coal-fired plants that “require technologies that have been adequately demonstrated and are commercially feasible.” Opponents of the regulations have said technologies under consideration by EPA are both expensive and unproven.
The measure would also give Congress control over when EPA could implement the regulations.
The bill drew a response from the Democratic minority staff, who issued a fact sheet disputing several claims made in Whitfield’s legislation, including the assertion that the U.S. is the only nation to require Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) at new coal-fired power plants. The Democratic staffers say similar technology is required in both Canada and the United Kingdom.
The staffers also dispute the legislation’s assertions that CO2 emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants are an insignificant part of the global climate problem, contending that the United States is the world’s second largest carbon polluter, responsible for nearly 20 percent of the world’s pollution from carbon emissions. Coal-fired power plants alone account for roughly a third of all U.S. carbon pollution, the Democratic staffers say.
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