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Rockefeller says New GAO Report Confirms EPA Standards Can Be Implemented Without Harming Electric Reliability

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Rockefeller issued the following statement today after the release of a new federal report about the potential impacts of the implementation of four environmental standards in the electric power industry.

"GAO took a deep dive into the impact of new standards on energy reliability, and I greatly appreciate the extensive report," said Rockefeller. "We must address the health and environmental concerns related to the power sector, and this report shows that we can do it responsibly. This report also makes clear that if federal agencies -- such as the Department of Energy, EPA, and FERC -- coordinate their efforts, it could help ease the process of implementing the standards on states and communities."

Rockefeller asked the non-partisan U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to do a comprehensive analysis of changes happening in the electric sector particularly relating to coal. The report is entitled "EPA Regulations and Electricity: Better Monitoring by Agencies Could Strengthen Efforts to Address Potential Challenges." Click here to view the GAO report.

Rockefeller also sent letters to the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) asking for additional details on how they plan to better coordinate their efforts, as the report recommends. Click here to view the letters which were sent on August 16.

The GAO report confirms what Rockefeller has been saying about the need for the coal industry to improve its technology to become cleaner and to reduce negative health and environmental impacts.

Most power plants will install pollution control equipment to comply with the standards. Many companies are investing the needed resources to upgrade younger plants so that they last for many more years. These companies realize that by investing in the plants' futures, they are securing a longer life for the plants. The plants choosing to retire instead of retrofitting tend to be much older, dirtier, less efficient, and less economical to continue running.

These Clean Air Act rulemaking actions were put in motion over two decades ago. Former President George H.W. Bush signed the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 which determined that these EPA standards would come about. Whether President Obama is president, or if someone else was, these standards would still be going into effect now based on the timeline provided in the Clean Air Act Amendments and as a result of lawsuits stemming from former President George W. Bush's tenure.

The benefits of these standards far outweigh the potential costs. As with most infrastructure investments, there will be costs associated with the EPA standards that may be incorporated into electricity prices. But, the new standards for power plants will help to reduce the cost impact on consumers over the long run. The EPA standards aim to improve the health of people exposed to power plant pollution, which means a reduction in hospital visits, fewer premature deaths, and more work productivity.

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