Friday, April 08, 2011

Bad guys in Congress turn attention to other EPA coal rules

Having voted to gut EPA's climate authority -- an action rejected by the Senate -- bad guys in the House of Representatives now are turning their attention to other key EPA rules that could affect coal.

Environment and Energy Daily has a good piece this morning about this new assault, as well as "discussion draft" legislation (see at )

Excerpts of the story are below. This is obviously an attempt to intimidate EPA and throw a money wrench into EPA attempts to deal with dangerous power plant pollution, including smog-forming emissions, mercury and other toxic emissions.

EPA: House panel mulls Cabinet study of new power sector regs (04/08/2011)
Gabriel Nelson, E&E reporter

Amid fights over U.S. EPA's climate change programs and efforts to stop the agency's new regulations through the budget process, a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee met yesterday to debate the idea of forming a Cabinet-level commission to figure out how much the agency's new environmental standards for coal-fired power plants would cost all together.

The Energy and Power Subcommittee reviewed a discussion draft from Reps. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and John Sullivan (R-Okla.) that seeks to study the impacts of several new regulations on air pollution, water use and waste products from the power sector.

Lawmakers heard yesterday from companies such as Big Rivers Electric Corp., a Kentucky power company that gets 97 percent of its 1,500 megawatts of generating capacity from burning coal. Mark Bailey, the company's CEO, said the company would need to spend about $785 million to comply with new rules, and he is worried that higher electricity prices would shut down two aluminum smelters that use 70 percent of the electricity produced by Big Rivers.

Those costs would come primarily from new rules for coal ash, smog and toxic emissions, all of which have been proposed since the start of 2010. EPA has already run the numbers on those new rules, but a cumulative analysis could better capture their impact, Matheson said.

"Maybe we ought to take a look at how these things work when you put them all together," he said. "We're going to harmonize the process, and I think that really is the goal. The goal is not necessarily to delay things."

Most of the Democrats on the committee described the bill as an effort to make EPA look bad and slow down its work. Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) said he is sympathetic to the situation that businesses are facing and could see himself supporting the bill, but he said the study should also calculate the health benefits that the rules would provide.

The proposal got unanimous support from Republicans, who have backed efforts to undo rules that would raise electricity costs. But while the climate rules have elicited the fiercest reaction on Capitol Hill, Republicans are not done yet, Environment and Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-Ill.) said.

Shimkus and his colleagues may go after an EPA proposal that would make some power plants upgrade their cooling water systems to kill fewer fish, he said. The lawmakers could also target rules that are on the schedule but have not yet been proposed, such as a planned update to the limits on the acceptable amount of dust and soot in the air.

"They're as crazy as the carbon dioxide regulations," Shimkus said.

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