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Senate Republicans Urging EPA to Withdraw Power Plant Rule

Thirty-nine Senate Republicans called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday to withdraw its proposed power plant rule, alleging that the regulations are fundamentally flawed and run afoul of a Supreme Court ruling on the agency’s powers last year.

The proposal, which aims to curb planet-warming emissions from fossil-fired power plants, would require coal plants to capture 90 percent of their emissions by 2030 and give gas plants the option to capture 90 percent of their emissions by 2035 or run mostly on hydrogen energy by 2038.

However, the more than three dozen members of the Senate GOP — led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and joined by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — argued that the carbon capture and clean hydrogen technologies required under the rule are “still nascent and have not yet been adequately demonstrated.”

“Congress’s recent provision of billions in funding for research, development, and demonstration for these technologies demonstrates the technologies are not adequately demonstrated and not sufficiently mature for use in regulatory mandates,” the senators said in Tuesday’s letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

The group accused the EPA of “effectively” requiring coal plants to shut down with its carbon capture mandates, noting that capture technology is “not commercially operational for any coal or natural gas plant in the United States” and “not viable at commercial scale yet.” 

When the rule was first proposed in May, Regan acknowledged that it was likely to prompt some coal plants to shut down.

“We will see some coal retirements, but the way this program is designed, this is really a decision that will be made company-by-company and state-by-state,” he said at the time. “It gives a ton of flexibility so that the power sector can make individual decisions based on available technology and the resources that they want to expend.”

The GOP senators also claimed in Tuesday’s letter that the proposal is in “direct conflict” with the Supreme Court’s decision in West Virginia v. EPA last June, which ruled that Congress did not authorize the agency to induce a systemwide shift toward more climate-friendly sources.

“While the Agency falsely claims this does not run afoul of the Supreme Court’s decision, it is undeniable the proposal would require generation shifting that the Court has definitively found Congress has never granted EPA the authority to require under the Clean Air Act,” they added.

Source : The Hill

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