U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin against EPA regulations - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin testifies against EPA regulations

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Stepping up to defeat impossible regulations.

Two United States lawmakers are trying to put a stop to the Environmental Protection Agencies proposal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, effecting new and existing coal-powered plants.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., testified Thursday morning in Washington, D.C., at the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Energy and Power, chaired by House Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky.

Manchin addressed the dire impact of the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed and anticipated regulations for greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants.

"Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency has chosen a regulatory path devoid of common sense that will take us way off course from a future of abundant, affordable, clean energy," Manchin said. "Our legislation tries to get the EPA back on track, but in a way that does nothing to prevent the EPA from acting in a reasonable, rational way."

In September, the EPA proposed the Clean Air Act standards cutting carbon pollution from new power plants in order to "combat climate change and improve public health."

Under the proposal, new, large natural gas-fire turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. New, small natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. New coal-fired units would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour.

The proposed standards would ensure new power plants are built with available clean technology to limit carbon pollution, a requirement that is in line with investments in clean energy technologies that are already being made in the power industry.

Not only would the coal industry be affected but also the entire energy sector.

Manchin teamed up with Whitfield to "protect American's access to reliable and affordable electricity for decades to come."

Whitfield, chairman for the energy and commerce committee, said the legislation would regulate greenhouse gases but Congress would be able to set parameters for those regulations.

He said Americans find themselves "living in the only country in the world where you cannot legally build a coal-powered plant because the technology is not available."

Manchin echoed his comment stating the legislation would provide all Americans with reliable electricity. He said the EPA is "trying to force (the coal) industry to do something that is technologically unachievable."

Manchin said the EPA is holding the coal industry to impossible standards, with the technology simply unavailable to meet current ideas for regulations.

"With regulations — if they aren't feasible, they aren't reasonable," Manchin added.

The two men argue that if the EPA's rule would move forwards, American consumers and businesses will be "denied the benefits afforded by coal— which provides nearly 40 percent of the nation with affordable and reliable electricity.

Manchin said the EPA's proposed standards for the new coal-fire power plants would effectively prevent any new plants from being constructed. He said the standards would require coal-fired power plants to deploy technologies that are not currently commercially viable.

"Though (the) EPA has yet to formally propose new standards for existing power plants, there is every indication that these standards will be unachievable as well," Manchin said in his testimony. "Right now, coal provides 37 percent of all the electricity generated in the United States, and the Department of Energy projects coal will provide at least that much through 2040."

Manchin pleaded that if lawmakers "stand by and do nothing" the EPA will continue to jeopardize America's economy as well as countless jobs with "no real environmental benefit."

For new plants, the legislation would require that any EPA regulation must be categorized by fuel type – coal or gas. EPA can only impose a standard if that standard has been achieved for 12 consecutive months at six different US electricity generating plants operating on a full commercial basis. For existing plants, any EPA proposed rule will not take effect until a federal law is enacted specifying the rule's effective date. And EPA must report to Congress on the economic impact of the rule.

"It's time the EPA started working as our partner, not our adversary, to achieve that balance. And the EPA can start by recognizing it is just common sense that regulations should be based on what is technologically possible at the time they are proposed."