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House Republicans Challenge Biden Administration's Emissions Directive

House Republicans Challenge Biden Administration's Emissions Directive

May 1, 2024

House Republicans Challenge Biden Administration's Emissions Directive

House Republicans have expressed significant concern over directives from the Biden administration that aim to enforce a 90 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from coal and gas-fired electricity plants by the year 2039. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has included this stipulation in a comprehensive four-rule regulatory package announced on April 25.

Industry officials have warned that this directive could potentially lead to the closure of approximately 200 power utilities across the nation. NorthWestern Energy's 40-year-old generating plants in Colstrip, Montana, which currently serve a substantial portion of the state as well as parts of South Dakota, Nebraska, and Yellowstone National Park, are among those at risk. The utility has recently invested over $560 million to comply with regulatory requirements and contends that an additional $600 million would be required to meet the new emission standards, rendering compliance economically unfeasible.

During a 90-minute hearing on April 30 regarding the EPA's $11 billion Fiscal Year 2025 budget request, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) voiced his objections from a "Montana perspective" to EPA Administrator Michael Regan. Zinke highlighted the potential implications of this rule on Montana, where reliable energy is critical especially during the cold winters. He emphasized the disconnect between Washington D.C. and the realities faced by residents outside the beltway.

Rep. Zinke also pointed out the financial burden on Montana families, suggesting that energy costs could increase by $1,000 annually due to the new rule, contributing to a total cost of $28,000 since January 2021. However, Administrator Regan disputed these figures, claiming that the EPA's analysis projects less than a 1-percent increase in energy costs over the years.

Coal currently accounts for about 16 percent of U.S. electricity generation, a sharp decline from 45 percent in 2010. With natural gas providing around 43 percent and the remainder being produced by nuclear and renewable sources, the transition away from fossil fuels is evident. Regan acknowledged that while there are provisions for certain non-conforming older plants to operate beyond 2039, the rule could lead to some coal retirements.

The new regulatory initiatives by the Biden administration also address wastewater from coal-fired plants, coal ash in storage ponds, and mercury emissions. NorthWestern's Colstrip plant, in particular, has faced criticism for mercury emissions. “93 percent of the coal-[fired power plants] in this country have magically figured out how to control mercury at a level that doesn’t produce this toxic for our children," Regan stated. He also claimed that the industry has "indicated carbon capture and storage [CCS] is viable technology” for them.

House Republicans like Rep. Chuck Edwards (R-N.C.) interpret the directive as essentially mandating a move away from coal and gas, rather than an offering of options that is being claimed. As the debate continues, the future of many power plants and the broader implications for the nation's energy grid and consumer costs remain in a state of flux.

The Epoch Times Article


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