U.S. House Passes Bill to Block EPA Clean Air Rules

U.S. House Passes Bill to Block EPA Clean Air Rules

Texas and Dallas-based power plant operator Luminant had a small victory yesterday against the EPA as the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Republican-sponsored bill that would block a number of clean air rules.

The bill’s passage comes after Texas sued the EPA this week, asking a federal court to block the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. The rule issued in July by the EPA would require substantial reductions in emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide at power plants in 27 states. The suit alleges the EPA hadn’t given the state enough notice or opportunity for comment and had based its inclusion of Texas in the rule on flawed science.

Texas PUC chair, Donna Nelson, expressed concerned after the EPA’s clean air ruling was announced that the dependability of the Texas grid would be jeopardized and that rolling outages would be imminent.

Luminant also said that it would sue the EPA, as well as shut down two units at a coal-fired power plant and cut 500 workers because of the rule.

The vote was 249 to 169, largely along party lines. Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled House have targeted Environmental Protection Agency air rules, saying they would kill jobs and burden businesses with billions of dollars in additional costs at the worst possible time.

“The Obama Administration is moving too fast and showing little regard for the economic consequences of their energy and environmental policies,” said Representative John Sullivan, who sponsored the bill.

The Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation or “TRAIN Act” would require a new interagency committee to analyze how several U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules affect industry, energy prices and electricity supplies.

The bill faces a difficult future in the Democratic-controlled Senate, and President Obama has threatened to veto it if it reaches his desk. But if passed, the bill would delay until at least February 2013 the effective dates of two clean-air regulations that the EPA was planning to phase in next year, buying some time for both Luminant and the Texas grid at large.

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