POLITICS

Rep. Whitfield: EPA emissions regulations ‘overly zealous’

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Michal Conger

Rep. Ed Whitfield, chairman of the House Energy and Power subcommittee, said Tuesday the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to impose stricter regulations on power plants may be overreaching, the Hill reports:

“The Environmental Protection Agency has been overly zealous,” Whitfield said during remarks at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ (NARUC) winter meeting.

EPA is pushing stricter emissions regulations for new coal and oil power plants, which it says will not apply to existing plants. But Republicans are wary. Whitfield warned after the NARUC meeting that efforts to extend the new standards to old plants will meet with resistance, according to the Hill:

“If they start trying to do this with existing plants, they’re going to have a real battle,” he told reporters afterward.

EPA clean air rules have already shut down existing power plants. Georgia Power announced in January it will close 15 coal and oil plants to comply with regulations after years of fighting the rules, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Whitfield’s remarks came the same day EPA released its updated greenhouse gas emissions data for 2011. The agency pinpoints power plants as the largest stationary source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to a press release. “Greenhouse gases are the primary driver of climate change, which can lead to hotter, longer heat waves that threaten the health of the sick, poor or elderly; increases in ground-level ozone pollution linked to asthma and other respiratory illnesses; as well as other threats to the health and welfare of Americans,” the release states. Overall greenhouse gas emissions were 3 percent lower in 2011 than in 2010, EPA notes, and emissions from power plants alone were 4.6 percent lower than in 2010. That has not stopped President Obama from blaming coal and oil for environmental havoc and pouring taxpayer money into alternative energy. The president named climate change a top second-term priority in his January 21 inaugural address: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” he said. “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.  The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.”
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