Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing about the impact of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Utility MACT regulation on electricity costs. The regulation, finalized in December 2011, requires the installation of emission control technologies by many coal-fired power plants over a relatively short time frame of three years.
The EPA estimates that the rule will have an annual cost of $9.6 billion, making it one of the most costly rules in the history of the agency. Manufacturers, as users of one-third of the energy consumed in this country, are extremely concerned that the regulation will increase electricity rates and also cause grid reliability issues.
One of the witnesses, Anne Smith of the National Economic Research Associates (NERA), argued that the EPA has made some “misleading public statements” about the health benefits of the rule in its Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA). Her testimony states:
“A closer read of the RIA reveals that all the “saved lives” and virtually all of the $33 billion to $90 billion of estimated benefits EPA has attributed to the MATS [or MACT] Rule are for purported coincidental reductions of . . . fine particulate matter (PM2.5) that is already regulated to safe levels separately under the [Clean Air Act].”
Thus, the EPA is “padding” its RIA with supposed health benefits that occur because of reductions in emissions not covered by the Utility MACT rule.
Her own economic analysis also indicates that the rule’s net impact to U.S. workers in 2015 will be a reduction in worker income that is the equivalent to approximately 200,000 full-time jobs.
Darren MacDonald, Director of Energy at Gerdau Long Steel North America, expressed concern that the regulations would increase electricity prices, hurt the company’s competitiveness and put jobs in jeopardy. He also noted that the Utility MACT regulation will place increased demand on the suppliers and installers of pollution control technology which could also drive up costs for manufacturers.
The NAM applauds the House of Representatives for passing legislation such as the TRAIN Act (H.R. 2401) which would delay implementation of the Utility MACT rule until an interagency economic study is completed. We urge similar action in the Senate.
Aicia Meads is director of resources and energy policy, National Association of Manufacturers.