U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today continued her fight to keep utility rates low for Missouri families, and protect the health of Missourians, by ensuring proposed regulations on coal-fired power plants are not rushed in a way that is too costly or that unfairly harms Missouri.
McCaskill is a leader of a bipartisan group of Senators who today strongly urged President Obama to delay new environmental rules on coal-fired plants for an additional two years to allow power companies the time they need to adapt and prepare. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed new rules to reduce the amount of toxic mercury in the air. McCaskill has sought to protect Missourians from unreasonable attacks on coal-powered energy, seeking a commonsense, balanced approach to the issue.
McCaskill-who opposed the President's "Cap & Trade" proposal and has worked to stop or delay unreasonable environmental regulations on industrial boilers and coal ash-is working closely with Republican Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Democratic Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) on a compromise proposal that would delay the proposed rules and give power companies more time to comply with the new standards. Today, McCaskill, Alexander, Pryor, and several colleagues wrote to President Obama, urging him to use his authority to delay the proposed rules.
"Many utilities have said that using the Clean Air Act's full six-year compliance timeline will make implementation of the rule more reasonable, practical and cost-effective," the bipartisan group of Senators wrote in a letter to President Obama. "It will allow more time to order and install equipment, to give the required public notice and to apply for necessary permits. It will minimize the possibility of disruptions in reliable electric service."
The rules, as currently proposed, will go into effect in three years with an option for a one-year delay. The proposal on which McCaskill is working would extend this deadline to allow for a full six years for compliance. A proposal to permanently block the rules on toxic mercury emissions from ever going into effect was recently defeated in a bipartisan vote.
Instead of requesting that the new rules on toxic mercury emissions be permanently blocked, several Missouri power companies have expressed a strong preference to be given more time to comply with them. McCaskill has also heard from Missourians across the state with concerns about the health impacts of toxic mercury emissions.
McCaskill has consistently worked with both Republicans and Democrats on issues facing Missouri. Citing that record earlier this year, the respected, nonpartisan news magazine National Journal ranked McCaskill exactly in the moderate middle of the U.S. Senate, #50 out of 100. McCaskill also strongly supports construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, recently praising the decision to speed up approval of Keystone's southern leg.
A copy of today's letter to President Obama is available below.
President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
We are writing to urge that you issue an Executive Order exercising your authority under Clean Air Act section 112(i)(4) to grant an additional two years for all utilities to comply with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) regulation. If states also use their authority to grant one additional year, utilities will have the full six years the Clean Air Act allows to install new pollution control equipment on coal and oil-fired power plants.
Many utilities have said that using the Clean Air Act's full six-year compliance timeline will make implementation of the rule more reasonable, practical and cost effective. It will allow more time to order and install equipment, to give the required public notice and to apply for necessary permits. It will minimize the possibility of disruptions in reliable electric service. The certainty of a full six years for implementation will spread out costs and minimize increases on electric rates. It will improve the ability of utilities to develop more realistic implementation schedules to ensure that an adequate supply of pollution control technology is available from manufacturers. Allowing the full six years may also discourage litigation and encourage compliance with the rule.
In short, exercising your Presidential authority under the Clean Air Act to provide an additional two years for implementation of this rule will help citizens of our States achieve the health benefits of clean air at the lowest possible cost and with the least possibility of disruption of electric service.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.