Wicker: EPA’s Carbon Dioxide Rule Is a Breathtaking Example of Regulatory Overreach

July 23, 2014

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, issued the following statement during the Committee’s hearing on a proposed rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate carbon dioxide from existing coal-fired power plants:

“This morning we have the opportunity to discuss the serious implications of the Administration’s unilateral move to execute its oppressive climate agenda. Some of my friends on the other side continue to speak of carbon pollution, which suggests to some people that they are talking about particulate emissions. Of course we know that what is being talked about with this proposed rule is carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. These regulations regarding CO2 could negatively impact every single American.

“The President is determined to wage an all-out war on coal – launching costly regulations that would have little effect on changing the climate. Over the past 10 years, global coal consumption has soared by 65 percent. During the same time period, U.S. coal exports have skyrocketed by more than 200 percent. Coal is burned to provide 40 percent of the world’s electricity needs in a reliable and economical way.

“Although coal consumption has soared, global average temperatures have stagnated over the past 17 years. This is a fact worth repeating. There has been no rise in global average temperatures over the past 17 years.

“Regardless, the Administration continues to defend its heavy-handed climate regulations with assertions that global average temperatures are on the rise.

“The regulation that we are here to discuss today is EPA’s most blatant overreach thus far. Under the guise of the Clean Air Act, the agency has proposed to mandate entities that are far outside its regulatory authority. The rule does not simply attempt to reduce emissions from existing plants. For the first time, EPA has gone beyond power plants with a regulation that reaches up to and including the power meter.

“EPA is relying on the talking point that its proposed rule is flexible and allows states to create their own plans. I know that this will be mentioned today. But this is fiction when it comes to many states.

“The rule is a regulatory noose for electricity providers and users in my state of Mississippi. In fact, states like Mississippi are being punished by EPA for having a diversified portfolio of electrical generation. One-hundred percent of Mississippi’s current coal production will be forced to close down under this rule.

“In place of coal, EPA suggests an increase in the use of renewable energy resources – an increase of more than 250 percent. Yet EPA’s own technical support documents show zero potential for this type of renewable energy resource in Mississippi. What good is flexibility if there is no chance of flexibility?

“Low-cost and reliable electricity is at the core of economic growth. Many parts of the country have been experiencing a ‘manufacturing renaissance,’ thanks in part to the great success of American energy innovation and the shale revolution.

“Unfortunately, EPA’s rules do not account for future economic development and could actually thwart new growth. This so-called ‘flexible’ regulation would mandate that states put CO2 emission reductions above all else.

“If these proposed rules move forward, our economy would be put at an economic disadvantage. Utilities and states will be handcuffed by EPA’s mandate because they would have to rely on uneconomical resources to power America’s homes and businesses, increasing the costs for everyone.

“The consequences of the Administration’s proposed rule would be disastrous for our economy and would have miniscule impact on the environment. In summary, the proposed rule is a breathtaking regulatory overreach. It is a job-killer. It is based on questionable science. It is of dubious legality under the Clean Air Act. It amounts to an end-run against Congress. It is inflexible. It would have no effect on the climate and is therefore pointless, and it is punitive.”