Tipton Votes to Protect Ratepayers, States from Harmful Impacts of EPA Power Plant Rule

WASHINGTON—Today, Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) voted to pass bipartisan legislation giving states protection from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule on existing power plants should a state’s governor, in consultation with state officials, determine that the federal plan would have an adverse impact on ratepayers or on the reliability of the state’s power grid. H.R. 2042, the Ratepayer Protection Act of 2015, also extends compliance dates under the rule pending judicial review.

“In Colorado, we value clean air and water, strive for a healthy environment, and do well to strike a balance between environmental protection and economic vitality. Visit Craig, Colorado to see a world-class example of this in practice, where responsible affordable energy production and clear blue skies exist. Yet, the Administration is attempting to impose drastic, and in some cases outright unattainable, mandates on existing power plans. The effects of these regulations won’t be cleaner air overall, but they could jeopardize the reliability of the electrical grid and have a severe economic impact, costing jobs and creating additional hardships for families and businesses already struggling to make ends meet,” said Tipton. “The Ratepayer Protection Act of 2015 gives states an opportunity to have a voice in the process, and provides states with the opportunity for judicial review prior to being required to implement onerous federal mandate that could have severe impacts on ratepayers.”

Background (courtesy of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce):

  • Last June, EPA proposed a rule for existing power plants, referred to by the agency as its “Clean Power Plan.” In the rule, EPA interprets a rarely invoked provision of the Clean Air Act, section 111(d), to allow the agency to set mandatory carbon dioxide (CO2) “goals” for each state’s electricity system. In the rule, EPA seeks to fundamentally change how electricity is generated, distributed, and consumed in the United States. 
  • Under EPA’s unprecedented proposal, states would be required to submit complex state plans to EPA in 2016, and to begin to meet interim goals in 2020 and a final goal in 2030. For states that do not submit a satisfactory plan, EPA would impose a federal plan, a model of which has not yet been proposed by the agency. EPA estimates annual costs of $5.5 billion to $7.5 billion in 2020 and $7.3 billion to $8.8 billion in 2030. But according to other forecasts, the potential costs are much higher and could range from $366 billion to $479 billion over the period 2017-2031. 
  • State governors, regulators, and other stakeholders have submitted extensive comments raising a wide range of concerns, from the legality of the rule to how it would be implemented, the significantly higher electricity costs, and the risks to electric reliability. According to a summary of state concerns, “32 states made legal objections, 28 raised significant concerns regarding compliance costs and economic impacts, 32 warned electricity reliability problems, and 34 states objected to EPA’s rushed regulatory timelines.” EPA plans to finalize the rule this summer. 
  • Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) have introduced legislation to allow for timely judicial review before states would be required to comply with the rule and to ensure a state would not be forced to implement a state or federal plan that would have a significant adverse effect on its ratepayers.