By: Timothy Cams
The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted Wednesday to delay the Obama administration’s landmark climate rule for power plants and let states opt out of complying with it.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), represents House Republicans’ first attempt to directly target and change the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) climate rule, proposed last June.
The panel voted 28-23 to send the bill to the full House for a vote.
Whitfield, who first unveiled the draft of his Ratepayer Protection Act just over a month ago, said the legislation responds to various concerns about the EPA’s rule brought forth by states, utilities, experts and other stakeholders.
“We know that rates will go dramatically in many states. [The North American Electric Reliability Corp.] and others have indicated that reliability is going to be affected,” he said at the Wednesday meeting to vote on the bill.
Whitfield called the regulation “a federal takeover of the electric generating and distribution system, which has never occurred before.”
Under the bill, the rule would not be able to take effect until all court challenges to it have been exhausted.
The EPA hopes to finalize the regulation this summer.
Additionally, a state government could veto any compliance plan, whether from the state or federal government, if he believes it would bring about various harms, such increased electric rates or decreased reliability.
Democrats slammed the bill.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) called it an “irresponsible proposal that would undermine the EPA’s clear authority to protect public health and the environment.” Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) said it was “a thinly veiled excuse for states to do nothing about climate change.”
Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) said he has problems with the EPA’s rule, but he could not support the GOP’s bill.
“I prefer that we sit down and craft a bill that addresses the many challenges we face, not only domestically, but as a world leader,” Green said.
“Allowing for endless legal challenges or partisan political discussions is not the proper way to handle an issue that affects the entire scope of the environment and the economy.”
The committee voted, largely along party lines, to reject numerous Democratic amendments. They included amendments that would have required that state governors certify that rejecting compliance plans would not hurt public health or that the effects of climate change would not cost more than complying with the rule.
Originally Published: The Hill