- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—As chairperson of the Senate Clean Air and Nuclear Safety subcommittee, Sen. Shelly Moore Capito joined a group of congressional members asking for a full review of the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan rule, stating the regulations are costly and questioning the legality of the rule.

“As proposed, the rule is not tailored to minimize the burdens on states and local governmental entities, or to avoid unreasonable costs. States and affected entities would be required to make decisions to shut down existing facilities, begin developing new infrastructure and make potentially expensive and irreversible decisions even if the rule is ultimately struck down or modified,” a letter to Howard Shelanski, head of the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) states.

The letter’s signers, including Capito, R-W.Va., and Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., said given the unprecedented costs and regulatory burden associated with compliance with the rule, they request that Shelanski ensure a full review of the proposed rule by appropriate agencies to include impact on electric rates and reliability.

“We also request that OIRA return the proposed rule to EPA if it would compel compliance, including the submittal of state plans before legal challenges could be resolved by the courts,” the six-page letter states.

The letter objects to the Environmental Protection Agency’s seeking to impose individual carbon dioxide emissions for each state’s electricity sector, implemented and subjected to enforcement on an accelerated timeline, according to the letter.

Once the rule is finalized in August, it is expected to face a barrage of legal challenges. In the meantime, some Republicans and coal-state Democrats are pushing legislation to delay the rule’s compliance deadlines until all litigation is complete.

The letter gave insight in those legal battles to come. It states the rule is widely expected to be challenged on constitutional, statutory, jurisdictional and regulatory grounds. Already, the legal and economic issues of the proposed rule has been the subject of thousands of comments submitted by states and other entities to the EPA, the letter states

Additionally, objections to the rule was raised during congressional hearings, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proceedings, in federal courts and in statehouses.

So far, the EPA has received more than 4 million comments on the Clean Power Plan — the most in the agency’s history, said EPA spokesman Tom Reynolds.

Two weeks ago, state regulators descended on Washington to make last-minute pleas for change to the power-plant emissions rule, Opponents argued the rule will determine the direction of utility investments for decades to come and could affect the price of electricity.

The plan is widely regarded as the most important environmental rule concerning the electric-power industry and is expected to change how electricity is generated and consumed in the U.S. The administration’s goal is to eduction carbon dioxide emissions plan by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

— E-mail: [email protected]

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