Legislation seeking to end what some call strict Environmental Protection Agency regulations on coal-fired power plant emissions has passed the house Energy and Commerce subcommittee.
Kentucky's first district Republican Congressman Ed Whitfield chairs the subcommittee and co-sponsored the bill with Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Whitfield expects the bill to pass the full committee easily as well as the full house. The bill offers an alternative to the EPA’s carbon emission standards. Whitfield said the standards are so high there is no commercially viable technology available to meet them.
“The emission standards that they come up with must accommodate the newest technology that is commercially available so that if someone wants to build a new coal-powered plant the technology is available to meet the mission standard,” he said. “My legislation ensures that coal is an option in the future should an entity decide to build a plant.”
Whitfield says the EPA plans to release more regulations on existing coal-powered plants in June, which is also a concern for him in the legislation.
“We’re saying on the new coal powered plants you can set the standards but the technology has to be adequately demonstrated that it works, and then we can build a new coal powered plant using that technology,” he said. “And if you come out with regulation on existing plants, since the majority of our electricity is produced from existing plants that Congress will set the effective date for it.”
This legislation comes after the Tennessee Valley Authority has outlined plans for shutting down units at west Kentucky's Paradise and Shawnee power plants. Whitfield said his bill will face obstacles in the Democratic-controlled Senate.