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House Energy and Power Subcommittee passes resolutions to stop overreach of one federal agency

This week, the Energy and Power Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), passed two resolutions, H.J. Res 71 and H.J. Res 72, disapproving of two final rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for new and existing power plants. The resolutions would provide for Congressional disapproval of each rule, and that the rules shall have no force or effect.

The two resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act address the EPA’s recently published final rules to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing electric generating units.

Congressional Review Act gives legislative branch the power to overturn federal agency rules

The Congressional Review Act is an oversight tool that provides the legislative branch with the power to overturn a major regulation issued by a federal agency. The Act can be invoked to prevent a rule that exceeds an agency’s statutory authority, or to prevent a rule that is likely to be unworkable, or that would do more harm than good, according to a press release from Committee Chairman Fred Upton.

Electrical power

Source: Energy.gov

According to the committee’s news release, “Through their unprecedented regulations, EPA is seeking to fundamentally change the way electricity is generated, distributed, and consumed in the United States. The economic costs far out-weigh the environmental benefits and as a result Chairman Whitfield introduced the two resolutions under the Congressional Review Act in an effort to protect grid reliability and ratepayers around the country from higher electricity prices.

“Additionally, these resolutions protect states and their citizens from having to implement a highly complex, intrusive, and unworkable regulatory cap and trade scheme.”

“In my view, the discrepancy between what EPA is trying to do and what the Clean Air Act actually allows is so wide that these resolutions are appropriate. More than half the states in the country have already filed legal challenges to the rule for existing plants and this extraordinary level of opposition is telling, given that EPA claims they collaborated with the states. These resolutions of disapproval offer an opportunity to restore the rule of law and protect ratepayers across the country,” Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Whitfield said.

“Affordable and reliable electricity in our country is under assault,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton said. “Congress wisely rejected cap and trade in 2010 and those rules are just as ill-advised today as they were five years ago. The resolutions are ultimately about protecting hard-working people from higher electricity prices, threats to grid reliability, and EPA’s economy-wide energy tax.”

Statements of Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield

“In the regulations at issue today, EPA seeks to go far beyond its statutory authority and transform how electricity is generated, transmitted, and consumed in the United States. There is nothing in the Clean Air Act provisions used to justify the rules that suggests such sweeping agency action is authorized. Indeed, the sheer sweep of these rules is unprecedented in the 45-year history of this statute.

If Congress wanted to authorize a comprehensive transformation of the way America produces, delivers, and uses its electricity in order to address global warming, it would have said so

“Put plainly: If Congress wanted to authorize a comprehensive transformation of the way America produces, delivers, and uses its electricity in order to address global warming, it would have said so. If Congress wanted to see a wholesale federal takeover of state authority on electricity policy, it would have said so. And if Congress wanted to write fossil fuels largely out of America’s energy future, it would have said so as well.

“These rules will produce not only higher electric rates, but also pose serious threats to electricity reliability and result in substantial loss of jobs and the potential for future employment growth—national harms we may begin to see soon, as states and industry grapple with the prospects of these rules. And all this sacrifice would achieve a hypothetical reduction in future temperatures too small to ever verify.

Potentially irreversible decisions and investments

“These rules, moreover, go well beyond traditional source performance standards authorized in the statute, and seek to force states and utilities to make potentially irreversible decisions and investments now.

EPA’s compliance schedule and complicated incentive scheme will lock states into making expensive and far reaching choices concerning their electricity systems before the long term implications of their decisions can be evaluated

“In the guise of the EPA’s new and expanded definition of what standards it can require, the agency has created a compliance schedule and complicated incentive scheme that lock states into making expensive and far reaching choices concerning their electricity systems as soon as possible, before the long term implications of their decisions can be evaluated, or the long term implications of EPA’s regulatory over-reach can be understood.

“EPA has made clear through its comments that the agency again wants to make its rules as much of a done deal as possible before the courts can render a final verdict. These resolutions of disapproval would preclude the agency from engaging in this highly inappropriate tactic—and in so doing protect ratepayers from the harm of EPA’s actions.”

Download a fact sheet on the resolutions here.

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Important disclosures: The information provided herein is believed to be reliable; however, EnerCom, Inc. makes no representation or warranty as to its completeness or accuracy. EnerCom’s conclusions are based upon information gathered from sources deemed to be reliable. This note is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security or financial instrument of any company mentioned in this note. This note was prepared for general circulation and does not provide investment recommendations specific to individual investors. All readers of the note must make their own investment decisions based upon their specific investment objectives and financial situation utilizing their own financial advisors as they deem necessary. Investors should consider a company’s entire financial and operational structure in making any investment decisions. Past performance of any company discussed in this note should not be taken as an indication or guarantee of future results. EnerCom is a multi-disciplined management consulting services firm that regularly intends to seek business, or currently may be undertaking business, with companies covered on Oil & Gas 360®, and thereby seeks to receive compensation from these companies for its services. In addition, EnerCom, or its principals or employees, may have an economic interest in any of these companies. As a result, readers of EnerCom’s Oil & Gas 360® should be aware that the firm may have a conflict of interest that could affect the objectivity of this note. EnerCom, or its principals or employees, may have an economic interest in any of the companies covered in this report or on Oil & Gas 360®. As a result, readers of EnerCom’s reports or Oil & Gas 360® should be aware that the firm may have a conflict of interest that could affect the objectivity of this report.