Senate Panel Investigates the EPA’s Utility MACT Rule

By March 20, 2012Energy, Regulations

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has not been very active on examining Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that impact manufacturers, but today the Committee’s Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee held a hearing on the Agency’s recently-finalized Utility MACT rule.

This rule is of particular concern for manufacturers because it is expected to increase electricity costs and may jeopardize grid reliability as coal-fueled power plants are taken off-line. We’ve already begun to see plant closures resulting from this overreaching rule (see our post on the GenOn Energy plant closures).

Despite concerns from utility companies that more time is needed to comply with the rule, Gina McCarthy, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, stated that the three-year time frame (plus the possibility of an additional year from the state permitting authority) was sufficient. The NAM has been a strong supporter of increasing the compliance time frame, so coal-fueled power plants are able to install new emission control technology without compromising grid reliability. You can read our comments on the proposed rule here.

Rob James, a City Council member from Avon Lake, Ohio, noted that his community is already feeling the effects of this rule. Avon Lake will lose 80 jobs from the GenOn Energy plant closure, and the local economy will also feel the pinch from lost tax revenue and the increase in electricity prices.

We are pleased that this Senate panel is examining the economic impacts of this rule, but more needs to be done. We strongly urge Senators to support Sen. Inhofe’s (R-OK) Resolution of Disapproval (S. J. Res. 37) that would repeal the rule, sending the EPA back to the drawing board to develop a more achievable regulation (read out letter to the subcommittee here). We expect a vote on this resolution in June or July – yet another opportunity for the Senate to show its support for manufacturing jobs.

Leave a Reply