Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

May 24, 2014

Greenhouse gas regulation

Senators request 120-day comment period on EPA standards

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bipartisan group of 46 senators sent a letter Friday to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy is requesting a 120-day public comment period for its proposed regulation of greenhouse gases from existing coal-fired power plants.

EPA is expected to release the first ever greenhouse gas (GHG) performance standards for existing power plants on June 2. In their letter, the senators stressed that utilities, rural electric cooperatives, employees and consumers need sufficient time to analyze the rule and its potential impacts on reliability, electricity providers, jobs, and the economy, according to a statement issued Friday by U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

The statement included a copy of the senators’ letter to McCarthy.

“We are writing to request that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provide at least a 120-day comment period on the upcoming draft proposal for the regulation of greenhouse gases from existing power plants,” the senators stated. “The EPA should provide this extended comment period as soon as the proposed rule is noticed in the federal register, given the significant impact this rule could have on our nation’s electricity providers and consumers, on jobs in communities that have existing coal-based power plants, and on the economy as a whole.”

“The upcoming proposal will be far more complex and critical for the industry to deal with than the proposal for new plants, and stakeholders will need time to analyze the rule and determine its impact on individual power plants, reliability and consumer cost, and on the electric system as a whole,” the senators said in the letter.

 “This analysis will be no small undertaking, as this will be the first ever regulation of greenhouse gases from existing power plants.  EPA recognized that additional time was needed and extended the original 60 day comment period for the Agency’s proposal regarding new source performance standards for newly constructed power plants, so it only makes sense to provide at least the same timeline from the outset for the existing plant rule,” according to the letter.

 “Affordable, reliable, and redundant sources of electricity are essential to the economic well-being of our states and the quality of life of our constituents,” the senators wrote. “While we all agree that clean air is vitally important, EPA has an obligation to understand the impacts that regulations have on all segments of society.”  

“As one step toward fulfilling this obligation, we urge you to provide for a comment period of at least 120 days on the forthcoming performance standards for existing coal-based power plants,” the senators said in their letter.

Kaine joined U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and senators including Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Senator Heidi Heitkamp, D- N.D.; to write the letter, along with Senators Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; Mark Begich, D-Ala.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.;  John Boozman, R-Ark.; Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Bob Casey, D-Pa.; Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.;, Dan Coats, R-Ind.; Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; John Cornyn, R-Texas; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.; Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; Mike Johanns, R-Neb.; Tim Johnson, D-S.D.; Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; Mark Kirk, R-Ill.; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Mary Landrieu, D-La.; Mike Lee, R-Utah; Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Mark Pryor, D-Ark.; Jim Risch, R-Idaho; Pat Roberts, R-Kans.; Tim Scott, R-S.C.; Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.; John Thune, R-S.D.; Tom Udall, D-N.M.; David Vitter, R-La.; John Walsh, D-Mont.; Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; and Mark Warner, D-Va.).

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