U.S. House Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) unveiled draft legislation on Oct. 28 to address Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules affecting electricity generation. The bipartisan legislation is intended to ensure America can maintain a diverse and affordable electricity portfolio, which includes the use of coal, natural gas, nuclear power, and renewables. Whitfield has been working closely with Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who will spearhead the legislation in the U.S. Senate.

The legislation provides direction to the EPA regarding the development of the agency’s planned new rules for power plants. Supporters of the legislation hope that it will allow the country to maintain a true “all of the above” energy strategy. It would require that any greenhouse gas standards set by EPA for new coal-fired plants are able to be achieved by commercial power plants operating in the real world, including highly efficient plants that utilize the most modern, state-of-the-art emissions control technologies. The legislation also requires a federal law to set an effective date for EPA’s expected standards or guidelines for existing plants and instructs EPA to report to Congress on their economic consequences and whether there will be any meaningful impact on global greenhouse gas emissions. The draft bill would also repeal previous greenhouse gas power plant rules proposed by EPA.

An outspoken critic of EPA regulations, Rep. Whitfield said, “The agency’s proposed standard for new power plants will make America the only country in the world where you cannot build a coal-fired power plant because the technologies required to meet those standards are not commercially viable. The agency’s rule for existing plants is also likely to shut down even more plants across the country. This bipartisan, bicameral solution will prevent unworkable regulations that threaten to limit America’s power portfolio and make energy more expensive.”

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) lent his support to the legislation, stating, “This important legislation will ensure costly regulations do not raise energy prices and threaten [the U.S. economy and job creation].”

—Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)