U.S. Reps. Nick J. Rahall and Alan B. Mollohan, both (WV), and U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher, (D-VA), Wednesday introduced legislation to block the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources, including coal-burning power plants. Senator Jay Rockefeller, (D-WV), introduced the Senate version of the legislation.
"I am dead-set against the EPA's plowing ahead on its own with new regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants," Rahall said. "This is reasonable and responsible legislation that will protect a vital industry -- coal -- and essential jobs for West Virginia and the Nation."
"EPA must be stopped from moving further down this very dangerous road -- one that would throw West Virginians out of work and increase energy prices for all Americans," Mollohan said. "Climate change will remain deeply controversial, but our approach is the only one that has a chance of bringing all sides together to stop what most everyone agrees is a very bad idea -- EPA pushing ahead with its own regulations."
"EPA regulation of greenhouse gases would be the worst outcome for the coal industry and coal related jobs," Boucher said. "Our bill is a responsible, achievable approach which prevents the EPA from enacting regulations that would harm coal and gives Congress time to establish a balanced program."
In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide could be considered pollutants and gave the EPA the power to regulate them under the Clean Air Act. In the absence of legislation, the EPA has the power -- and is legally mandated by the Supreme Court -- to step in and address carbon emissions.
In response to that court mandate, the EPA has plotted a course for regulating carbon emissions from vehicles and stationary sources. Accordingly, the plan for stationary sources would hit large emitters -- like coal-burning power plants -- up front, while smaller emitters would be addressed later.
To address the near-term challenges to coal posed by the planned EPA regulation, Rahall, Mollohan, and Boucher are proposing a two-year suspension of EPA's regulatory authority for stationary sources.
The legislation has received the support of the United Mine Workers of America.