Coal-fired regulations-blocking bill backed by power groups

The American Public Power Association (APPA), the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, National Association of Manufacturers and more than 40 other energy and utility organizations are backing a bill that would restrict the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s ability to regulate coal-fired power plants.

The Interior and Environment Appropriations bill also includes funding for the Department of the Interior and the EPA for fiscal year 2012. It would cut climate change programs by 22 percent, or $83 million, compared to last year and would prevent funding from being used to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants for one year.

In a July 25 letter to the Appropriations Committee, the groups expressed concern with several proposed EPA rules, including the Utility MACT, Section 316 (b) of the Clean Water Act and the recently finalized Cross State Air Pollution Rule.

"Most coal-dependent states simply have no idea how much their energy costs could increase, how the reliability of their electric systems could be degraded, and how the competitiveness of their important local industries and companies could be harmed because of these new rules," APPA and the other groups said in their letter to the Appropriations Committee. "We agree with EPA’s goals to protect public health and the environment, but we also believe that these basic state-specific questions should be answered by the agency and other federal agencies before moving forward with any of the above rules."

Provisions in the bill targeting specific regulations include:

    •    A one-year prohibition on EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources. The measure also would block civil tort or common law lawsuits alleging greenhouse gas emissions contribute to global warming and would prevent any applied-for permit from being federally enforced.  The bill would require the president to submit a comprehensive report on all federal spending on climate change.

    •    EPA could not spend fiscal 2012 funds to finalize or implement its proposed rules on cooling water intake systems under Section 316 (b) of the Clean Water Act.

    •    The bill would bar EPA from spending any money to regulate fossil fuel combustion waste, or coal ash, as a hazardous waste under Subtitle C of the Resource Recovery and Conservation Act.

    •    EPA could not use any money to develop or implement new guidance defining waters subject to its jurisdiction under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.

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