Clean Utilities Defend New EPA Air Rules, Draw Ire of Republicans

Date: September 29, 2011

Source: News Room

A group of House Republicans is criticizing a coalition of "clean" utilities for defending EPA against claims that its recent suite of utility rules, including new air toxics standards, will hurt the economy and decrease the reliability of the electric grid. A group of 14 House Republicans sent a letter on Sept. 22 to The Clean Energy Group (CEG), a coalition of utility companies with investments in lower-emitting "clean" energy sources such as natural gas and nuclear power, charging that its "advocacy for these rules is rooted neither in concern for public health nor for the environment, but in rent seeking. These rules will confer on your companies -- which predominantly generate electricity from natural gas and nuclear power -- a competitive advantage in the marketplace at the expense of consumers," according to the letter.

The letter, which is signed by Reps. Jean Schmidt (R-OH), Steve Chabot (R-OH) and others, argues that the clean utilities face fewer adverse impacts from the utility air rules since they invested in gas-fired or nuclear generation long before the existing raft of EPA rules affecting the sector was on the horizon. They argue that CEG's members are content to allow rises in electricity prices due to EPA's rules, in order to bolster their own profits. They also refute arguments that the utilities should have anticipated the regulation arguing that EPA significantly changed the form and stringency of the rules from earlier versions, or between proposal and final promulgation.

Meanwhile, a coalition of non-profit, consumer owned public power utilities in 17 states wrote to President Obama in a Sept. 22 letter to "express concern at the pace and stringency of other expanded EPA regulation of our electric generation resources, which more directly jeopardize our ability to provide affordable, reliable electricity." They say EPA failed to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of the rules which will result in higher costs, that as public utilities, they must pass directly on to consumers.

Sign up to receive our free Weekly News Bulletin