Press Releases

Mar 04 2010

ROCKEFELLER INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO SUSPEND EPA ACTION AND PROTECT CLEAN COAL STATE ECONOMIES

Legislation Calls for Two Year Suspension of EPA Action On Greenhouse Gas Regulations to Protect Jobs and Coal Industry

Washington, D.C.—Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV today introduced legislation to suspend potential Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation of greenhouse gases from stationary sources for two years. 
 
“Today, we took important action to safeguard jobs, the coal industry, and the entire economy as we move toward clean coal technology,” said Senator Rockefeller. “This legislation will issue a two year suspension on EPA regulation of greenhouse gases from stationary sources—giving Congress the time it needs to address an issue as complicated and expansive as our energy future.  Congress, not the EPA, must be the ideal decision-maker on such a challenging issue.
 
“Two weeks ago, I sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson challenging EPA’s potential regulation of greenhouse gases. Administrator Jackson responded quickly and showed some willingness to move the agency’s timetable for regulation to the end of 2010.  This is a positive change and good progress, but I am concerned it may not be enough time. We must set this delay in stone and give Congress enough time to consider a comprehensive energy bill to develop the clean coal technologies we need.  At a time when so many people are hurting, we need to put decisions about clean coal and our energy future into the hands of the people and their elected representatives, not a federal environmental agency.” 
 
Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV) is introducing the House of Representatives companion legislation, with Reps. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) and Rick Boucher (D-VA) as original cosponsors.
 
Background
 
Senator Rockefeller has been working to protect West Virginia clean coal and secure the economies in clean coal states. Rockefeller’s legislation will allow two years for Congress to consider comprehensive energy legislation before EPA could begin consideration of regulations.   The legislation directs that for two years after enactment the EPA can take no regulatory action and that no stationary source shall be subject to any requirement to obtain a permit or meet a New Source Performance Standard under the Clean Air Act with respect to carbon dioxide or methane, except for the widely-supported motor vehicle emission standards.

The bill will give Congress the time it needs to design and pass well thought-out legislation.  Comprehensive energy legislation should be crafted with a combination of certainty and incentives to create the right business atmosphere for coal’s continued use well into the 21st century.  In order to give businesses, energy company CEOs, and investors a reason to invest in technology, they need to know there will be a market for that technology and some level of comfort around the certainty of future environmental regulations. 
In April 2007, the Supreme Court ruled in Massachusetts v. EPA that EPA must make a determination when it comes to regulating motor vehicle emissions.  On December 15, 2009, EPA published its final rule in the Federal Register, stating: “The Administrator finds that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere may reasonably be anticipated both to endanger public health and to endanger public welfare.”
 
The Supreme Court ruling gives the EPA the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. If Congress wants to change or alter that authority—or suspend it long enough to pass comprehensive legislation—Congress must be able to pass a bill that addresses the real life economic impacts that EPA is not equipped to consider. 
 
To address concerns about EPA’s unmitigated authority in regulating stationary sources and the impact on jobs and local economies, Senator Rockefeller recently led a group of eight Senators from clean coal and manufacturing states in sending a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
 
The letter conveyed concerns and questions about how the Clean Air Act could be used to regulate a host of greenhouse gas emission sources ranging from coal-burning power plants to factories to oil refineries and many other types of facilities that collectively employ millions of Americans.  Link to the letter to Administrator Jackson here (LINK).

Administrator Jackson indicated in her expedient reply that EPA is moving forward with motor vehicle regulations,  but the stationary source regulations that are likely to have far-reaching economic consequences will not be acted upon in 2010, but phased-in beginning in 2011. Link to the letter from Administrator Jackson here (
LINK).

Senator Rockefeller’s legislation gets to the heart of the matter by providing time for Congress to debate a comprehensive approach to energy policy and its effect on jobs and our economy without hampering EPA’s ability to move forward with important vehicle efficiency rules.  Link to the legislation here (
LINK).
 
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