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The EPA puts the screws to power plants

I’m sure most of you are well aware of the activist stance the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken, especially under the direction of Lisa Jackson.

Over the last two years, they have proposed some of the most controversial rules and regulations that, even by their own accounting, have the potential of costing American companies tens of billions of dollars.

Unfortunately, too often, the overwhelming number and scope of these regulations results in each individual one being forgotten. I hope to use at least some of these Regulatory Roundups to highlight some of the most harmful EPA regulations.

This week, I want to discuss two recent regulations imposed by the EPA that will have a negative impact on the American economy, job growth, and our already sky-high fuel prices. They are the Utility MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) rule and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), also known as the Transport Rule, and they are expected to cost the energy industry an astounding $17.8 billion annually.

Utility MACT Rule

The Utility MACT rule is aimed at the electric utility industry and would establish new standards to limit the amount of mercury, acid gases, and non-mercury metals power plants can release into the air.

If implemented, it is anticipated to affect at least 525 coal and oil-fired power plants throughout the United States, and according to the EPA’s own numbers is expected to cost $10.9 billion per year.

This number makes it one of the most expensive regulations in the history of the EPA.

And even more shocking, that number doesn’t include any indirect costs – such as the expected price increase in consumer electricity and natural gas – associated with it. Many analyses have estimated its total cost is closer to $100 billion.

This high cost is a result of the expensive technology required to comply with the new regulation. While many power plants are beginning to slowly make these changes to their operation, the EPA’s regulation would require they come in full compliance by 2015. And the EPA imposed this extremely costly regulation without a single action by Congress.

CSAPR

CSAPR, finalized in July of this year, would establish emission caps for Eastern states in the United States to assist downwind states in complying with ozone standards.

More specifically, it would replace the EPA’s Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) and require 27 states to make dramatic cuts in power plant emissions that contribute to ozone and/or fine particle pollution in other states.

This rule is expected to impact 1,081 power plants nationwide and will have at least some impact on a majority of the 148 power plants in Georgia. According to the EPA’s own estimates, it is expected to cost $2.8 billion annually.

So, in spite of sulfur emissions being cut by 56 percent since 1980 and nitrogen oxide emissions decreasing by 77 percent since 1990, the EPA plans to move forward with CSAPR.

They have implemented an extremely short deadline for utilities to make modifications to existing equipment – giving them less than six months from the time the regulation was finalized to come into compliance.

The regulation is expected to cost as much as $100 million for a 350-megawatt power plant, and those costs would eventually be passed along to consumers.

Many power plants are in the process of discussing whether or not they will be able to afford compliance with this new regulation and it is anticipated that some will be forced to close their doors.

That jeopardizes our country’s electricity grid, which could have an impact on our national security, and costs American jobs. And once again, this extremely costly regulation was passed without the approval of Congress.

The TRAIN Act

In response to the EPA’s dramatic overreach both with CSAPR and Utility MACT as well as other harmful regulations, the House of Representatives will take up H.R. 2401, the TRAIN Act (Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act).

The TRAIN Act establishes a rule that a report on the direct and indirect results of all rules and regulations issued by the EPA is required prior to implementation.

If enacted, this legislation will increase transparency within the regulation process at the EPA and will ensure that proper attention is paid to the total impact regulations may have on the energy industry and on American consumers.

It is expected to pass the House sometime this week, although Senate Democrats are expected to table it immediately rather than allow debate or a vote. I will support the legislation when it comes to the House floor.

Next week, I will address the new rule by the Department of Justice concerning deportation of illegal immigrants. Earlier this summer, the DOJ announced they would review each case to determine if an illegal immigrant should be deported – rather than deporting each illegal immigrant caught inside the United States.

[Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-3rd District) was first elected to Congress in 2004 and currently serves on the House Financial Services Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. His website is www.house.gov/westmoreland. He lives in Grantville.]

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