House to Vote on Amendment to Delay EPA Power Plant Rules

The U.S. House of Representatives could by Friday vote on a measure that could delay the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) implementation of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) and the recently proposed utility MACT rule by more than a year.

The House Rules Committee on Tuesday held a hearing on the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011 (H.R. 2401)—the so-called TRAIN Act—and voted to allow floor debate on an amendment sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) on Tuesday protested the committee’s passage of the amendment. In a letter to chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the Democrats said the amendment offered by Whitfield “fundamentally changed the bill.”

“The legislation started as a requirement that a newly created government commission evaluate the cumulative impacts of EPA regulations. The Whitfield amendment turned this study bill into a substantive bill by indefinitely delaying two major Clean Air Act regulations, the utility MACT rule, which reduces mercury and other toxic emissions from power plants, and the cross-state air pollution rule, which reduces sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from power plants that cross state boundaries and harm downwind communities’ efforts to achieve healthy air quality,” they wrote.

The Democrats argued the amendment was not fairly evaluated before its passage. “On process, the substantive changes made by the amendment had not been subject to Committee consideration and were circulated to members less than a day before the markup, allowing no time for deliberate consideration,” they wrote.

Chairman Whitfield’s floor amendment was “an even more egregious abuse of process” that “makes radical changes in the Clean Air Act provisions.” These changes have never been considered in hearings or debated in committee, the Democrats alleged. “Members are being asked to vote on major changes to the Clean Air Act without any idea what they would do.”

A GOP Energy and Commerce Committee aide told The Hill on Tuesday that the “amendment provides much-needed regulatory relief to America’s power sector. EPA’s current Utility [Maximum Achievable Control Technology] rule and cross-state air pollution rule will devastate our nation’s power sector and lead to plant closures across the country.”

Sources: POWERnews, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, The Hill

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