Congress, Energy, Environment, U.S. President

Sen. Capito co-authors letter urging EPA to scrap Biden’s Clean Power Plan 2.0 and start over

MORGANTOWN – West Virginia’s U.S. senators continue their push against the Biden administration’s approach to pursuing green energy policy by bypassing Congress and working through agency rules.

On Monday, Sen. Joe Manchin asked the Government Accountability Office for a legal opinion on whether the U.S. Treasury’s guidance on implementing the Clean Vehicle Tax Credit, part of of the Inflation Reduction Act, is subject to review under the Congressional Review Act. Manchin is concerned that Biden’s EV policy benefits unfriendly Foreign Entities of Concern.

On Tuesday, Sen, Shelley Moore Capito, in her role as ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, joined with Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in a letter to Biden’s EPA.

Writing to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, they again outline their concerns with the administration’s proposed Clean Power Plan 2.0, “that aims to close down power plants across the country, threatening America’s electric grid reliability on unjustifiable legal grounds.”

They wrote, “We urge the EPA to rescind its Clean Power Plan 2.0 proposal and make affordability, reliability, and the limits of its authorities under the Clean Air Act cornerstones of any future proposal. The more time that has passed since the proposal, the more issues with the Clean Power Plan 2.0 have been uncovered.”

The EPA says the proposed rule would set limits for new gas-fired combustion turbines; existing coal, oil and gas-fired steam-generating units, and certain existing gas-fired combustion turbines. “The proposed standards are based on technologies such as carbon capture and sequestration/storage, low-GHG hydrogen co-firing, and natural gas co-firing, which can be applied directly to power plants that use fossil fuels to generate electricity.”

EPA says, “The proposed new source performance standards and emission guidelines reflect the application of the best system of emission reduction that, taking into account costs, energy requirements, and other statutory factors, is adequately demonstrated for the purpose of improving the emissions performance of the covered electric generating units.”

The letter extends 5 ½ pages and point-by-point disputes the EPA’s contentions, saying CPP 2.0 is “unachievable, uneconomic, and unreasonable for small and large electric generating units (EGUs).”

Here are some highlights.

  • It “clearly runs afoul of the Supreme Court’s ruling in West Virginia v. EPA, as a Biden administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Joe Goffman acknowledged. The Inflation Reduction Act did not include provisions addressing EPA authority to adopt generation shifting [shifting the power source from coal to gas and renewables]. “Yet, the EPA has clearly chosen to adopt generation shifting through its co-firing requirements in the proposal.”
  • Carbon capture and storage is not advanced enough to achieve the plan’s objectives. While EPA sites several example projects, “none of these projects would meet the EPA’s proposed requirement that 90 percent of carbon emissions be captured or show that the technology is adequately demonstrated and commercially available.”
  • Several proposed CO2 pipelines EPA uses to justify its plan have been canceled in their home states due to permitting and other challenges.
  • An October report from the Energy Futures Initiative Foundation, founded by former Obama Secretary of EnergyErnest Moniz, determined that 150 large carbon dioxide pipelines transiting 50,000 miles would be needed by 2035 to support the required CCS buildout under the proposed rule. “This would be the equivalent of building more than a quarter of the existing petroleum pipelines in a little more than a decade. Given the current permitting environment, it is unreasonable for the EPA to conclude that the necessary infrastructure will be in place within the timelines of the rule.”
  • Also EPA itself is dragging its feet in approving injection wells to store captured carbon.
  • Several regional electric grid organizations (including PJM here) say CPP 2.0 “has the potential to ‘materially and adversely impact electric reliability.'”

The senators conclude: “The proposal is beyond repair and must be withdrawn. Failing to do so and moving ahead with the proposal would significantly threaten the safety and reliability of the electric grid.

“The impact of these flaws will ultimately be borne by ratepayers through higher energy costs and the effects of reduced reliability on economic opportunity and public health and safety. Low-income and other vulnerable Americans will be disproportionately affected due to the regressive nature of energy cost increases. … The only legally permissible course is to develop a new, legally sound proposal and start the rulemaking again.”