The Committee on Energy and Commerce calls the EPA’s 2016 budget “more than enough”

On February 25, the Subcommittees on Energy and Power and Environment and the Economy held a hearing on President Obama’s 2016 budget request for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA requested a total budget of $8.6 billion for fiscal year 2016, $452 million more than the agency’s enacted level for fiscal year 2015, according to the EPA.  

In the opening statements for the budget hearing, Ed Whitfield (R-KY) voiced concerns over how the money would be spent, saying: “This amount is more than enough to allow the Agency to perform its required duties under the Clean Air Act and all the other statutes that it administers. The problem is that the Obama EPA has strayed well beyond its legitimate functions and has embarked on an expansive regulatory agenda that is on shaky legal ground and is bad policy for the country.”

Mr. Whitfield went on to say that the Clean Power Plan in particular worried him because “the Agency is regulating far outside its authority.” The plan calls for emissions to drop by 30% by 2030, putting a great deal of pressure on fuel sources like coal that have high CO2 emissions.

Kevin Crutchfield, CEO of Alpha Natural Resources (ticker: ANR), says that modern technology simply cannot meet the standards set by the EPA. Emissions from new coal plants are not to exceed 1,100 lbs. of carbon per megawatt-hour (MWH), even though advanced coal facilities currently produce 1,800 lbs. per MWH.

The Clean Power Plan came under scrutiny during the hearing as Texas Commissioner Kenneth Anderson called the plan “physically impossible” and “completely unattainable,” according to the Energy & Commerce Committee. American Public Power Association President and CEO Susan Kelly questioned the legal basis of the plan saying, “Its requirements go beyond what is legally permissible under Section 111(d) and conflict substantially with the authority of other federal, state, and local governmental entities.”

The EPA’s news release that accompanied the FY 2016 budget explained that money put aside for the Clean Power Plan would help to give states more flexibility in implementing provisions. “Finalizing and implementing these regulations will involve innovative approaches and flexibility for achieving solutions, as well as extensive and unprecedented work with states … which is why this budget includes additional funding for states.” The FY 2016 budget includes $239 million for the Clean Power Plan, as well as a $4 billion Clean Power State Incentive Fund meant to “support state efforts to go above and beyond their carbon pollution reduction goals in the power sector.”

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