It’s Time To Stop EPA’s Clean Power Grab
House Energy and
The president's heavy-handed regulations were announced by the administration on Aug. 3, 2015, in two final rules to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing fossil fuel-fired power plants. Through these rules EPA seeks to fundamentally change the way we generate, distribute, and consume electricity in the United States. The rules seek to put in place renewable energy mandates and cap-and-trade requirements for the electricity sector similar to what would have been required by the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade legislation that failed to pass a Democratically-controlled Congress in 2010. It was a bad idea then, and it's a bad idea now.
Through hearings conducted by the Energy and Power Subcommittee, which I chair, and the testimony of numerous witnesses, it is clear that these unprecedented rules go beyond the scope of the agency's authority. For example, after the rules were proposed, President Obama's Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe testified before our subcommittee that EPA "lacks 'implied' or 'inherent' powers. Its gambit here raises serious questions under the separation of powers, Article I, and Article III [of the Constitution], because EPA is attempting to exercise lawmaking power that belongs to Congress and judicial power that belongs to the federal courts. The absence of EPA legal authority in this case makes the Clean Power Plan, quite literally, a 'power grab.'"
Similarly, after the rules were finalized, the solicitor general of West Virginia, Elbert Lin, testified, "The Section 111(d) Rule – called the 'Clean Power Plan' by EPA — was unlawful when EPA first proposed it in 2014 and remains unlawful today. The plain language of Section 111(d) does not authorize the Power plan, and therefore the entire rule is illegal." He further testified that "EPA's novel interpretation of Section 111(d) would transform this environmental regulator into the most powerful central planner in the federal bureaucracy."
These detrimental regulations will drive up electricity prices for many families and businesses across the country. Since the rules were finalized, NERA Economic Consulting released a study of the final rule for existing plants and estimated that to comply with EPA's plan could require energy sector expenditures from $220 billion to $292 billion and increase retail electricity prices by double digits in 40 states. The last thing American people can afford right now are higher monthly power bills.
In short, the complexity, legality, costs, and literal unworkability of these rules-and the resulting harms to ratepayers have been revealed through extensive oversight by the Energy and Power Subcommittee of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Informed by the committee's work, I introduced two resolutions, H.J. Res 71 and H.J. Res 72, which stand up for jobs and affordable energy and disapprove of the two final rules issued by EPA.
This week, the House will be voting on resolutions – identical to H.J. Res 71 and H.J. Res 72 — that passed the Senate on Nov. 17, 2015, on a bipartisan basis, which will serve to protect ratepayers around the country from higher electricity prices and from increased grid reliability risks.
To date, 27 states have already challenged EPA's rule for existing plants, and 23 states are challenging the rule for new plants. We were sent to Congress to be the voice of the American people. After we vote this week, the president will have a choice: Put the priorities of the people first – jobs, affordable and reliable electricity – or continue turning a blind eye to what matters most. There is no question who we are fighting for in Congress, and I expect a strong vote on behalf of the American public in the coming days.
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R) is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power. He represents Kentucky's first congressional district. This article was shared with the ARRA News Service editor by the Energy and Commerce Committee. The article was ran previously on the Washington Examiner.
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