MIL-OSI USA: Ohio’s U.S. Rep. Troy Balderson leads drive to toss out new EPA power plant rules

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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Troy Balderson (R-OH)

This article was originally published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

By Sabrina Eaton

WASHINGTON, D.C. – To U.S. Rep. Troy Balderson, a Zanesville Republican whose central Ohio congressional district includes some of Ohio’s largest natural gas-producing counties, a clean power plan that the Biden Administration announced in April was a dirty deal intended to shut down U.S. power plants.

He says the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan 2.0 demand that existing coal-fired and new natural gas-fired power plants control 90% of their carbon pollution will be prohibitively expensive and require implementing technology that has never before been deployed at a commercial scale.

On Wednesday, Balderson led 138 of his GOP colleagues, including all Ohio’s Republican House of Representatives members, in introducing a resolution to overturn the new regulations. U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, introduced an identical Senate measure with backing from 43 Senators including Sen. JD Vance, a Cincinnati Republican.

A statement from Balderson said the EPA’s plan “was created by and for extreme activists, ignoring the real-world harm it will cause to our electric grid and American energy security.

“Slashing our baseload energy production while power demand continues to climb at historic levels is shortsighted and will have a catastrophic impact for Ohioans,” Balderson’s statement continued. “This Congressional Review Act resolution allows Congress to step in and reverse the Biden Administration’s efforts to practically eliminate our reliable power generation by 2032.”

In addition to requiring that old coal and new natural gas power plants control 90% of their carbon pollution, the new EPA requirements would tighten the emissions standard for toxic metals by 67% and finalize a 70% mercury emission reduction standard from existing lignite-fired sources. It would also reduce pollutants discharged through wastewater from coal-fired power plants by more than 660 million pounds per year and regulate coal ash disposal.

EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said the new standards will cut pollution “while ensuring that power companies can make smart investments and continue to deliver reliable electricity for all Americans.”

EPA’s regulatory impact analysis predicts the rules will reduce 1.38 billion metric tons of carbon pollution overall through 2047, which is equivalent to preventing the annual emissions of 328 million gasoline cars, or roughly the same as nearly a year of emissions from the entire U.S. electric power sector. It also projects up to $370 billion in climate and public health net benefits over the next two decades.

Environmental groups applauded the new standards, with League of Conservation Voters president Gene Karpinski saying they will “dramatically cut carbon pollution, as well as the arsenic, soot, mercury, and other toxic pollution from power plants that ends up in our air, water, and land,” and improve the health and safety of communities located near power plants “that have been fighting for these protections for decades.”

American Lung Association president and CEO Harold Wimmer released a statement that said burning fossil fuels in power plants harms people’s lungs, makes kids sick and accelerates the climate crisis.

“The stronger clean air and climate protections will save lives,” Wimmer said of the new standards.

“The job is not done. Existing gas-fired power plants are massive carbon emitters. They kick out other dangerous pollution that most hurts low-income communities and people of color. The EPA must cut all of that pollution – and soon – in a way that confronts the climate crisis and protects frontline communities.”

Natural Resources Defense Council president and CEO Manish Bapna said his organization would like EPA to cut carbon emissions from existing gas-fired power plants, not just new ones.

“The EPA must cut all of that pollution – and soon – in a way that confronts the climate crisis and protects frontline communities,” said a statement from Bapna.

Critics of the new rules said they were similar to restrictions proposed under the administration of ex-President Barack Obama that were overturned in court and predicted they’ll also be rescinded. They cited a landmark 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that limited how EPA can use the Clean Air Act to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

National Mining Association president and CEO Rich Nolan said the new rules seemed designed to force closure of well-operating coal plants that are the primary source of power generation in many states, despite the fact that electricity demand is soaring and there’s no adequate replacement ready for the generating capacity coal provides.

“We’ve seen this unlawful regulatory playbook before, challenged it and the Supreme Court agreed with our take,” Nolan continued. “We will do so again and expect the same outcome.”

Republican attorneys general from dozens of states joined with industry groups last month in a lawsuit aiming to block the carbon emissions rule. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost joined with his Kansas counterpart in a separate legal filing that asks the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the EPA’s actions.

Balderson’s legislative effort has backing from numerous industry groups, including the American Petroleum Institute (API), National Mining Association (NMA), US Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), Buckeye Power, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives, Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, Ohio Oil & Gas Association and Ohio Independent Power Producers.

A statement from Ohio Manufacturers Association president Ryan Augsburger said the new EPA rule would hamstring new natural gas power plants, which are needed for a competitive electricity supply and can co-exist with expanding renewable technologies.

Ohio Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Steve Stivers said the new rule would cripple Ohio’s natural gas industry. He said natural gas was Ohio’s top power source for electricity generation in 2022, and “expansion of the Silicon Heartland” will only increase power demands. The proposed rule will require the use of technologies that aren’t deployable yet, and would harm efforts to keep electricity reliable and affordable at a time of increasing demand, said a statement from Stivers.

“The rule is unachievable, unrealistic, and unlawful,” said a statement from Pat O’Loughlin, President and CEO of Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives and Buckeye Power. “If not stopped by Congress or in federal court, the rule will drive operational costs higher, severely threaten the reliability of the electric grid, and force the premature closure of dependable, baseload power plants needed to electrify the county and meet the rising demand for energy.”

Click here to read the original article published by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

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