Manchin-Coats ‘Fair Compliance Act’ Gains Support from Senators Thune, Moran
Commonsense bill would extend EPA deadlines to protect American jobs, prevent spikes in energy costs and ensure reliability of electric grid
Washington, D.C. – The bipartisan Senate effort to create reasonable timelines for utilities to comply with two major Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules gained momentum today as Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Dan Coats (R-Ind.) announced additional cosponsors, Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) and Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). Thune and Moran join a growing list of supporters, including Senators Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), of the “Fair Compliance Act,” legislation that would protect American jobs, prevent utility rate hikes and ensure the reliability of the electric grid.
The Manchin-Coats bill would extend the compliance deadline for the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) by three years and the deadline for the Utility MACT rule by two years – so that both would fall on January 1, 2017.
“This bipartisan, commonsense bill strikes a balance that will protect American jobs, help prevent utility rate hikes and keep our electric grid stable, and I am glad that our effort is gaining momentum,” said Manchin, the lead Democrat sponsor of the bill. “The bottom line is this: when it comes to these very costly regulations, we need to reach a middle ground that achieves a balance between our economy and environment.”
“Senator Manchin and I are pleased to welcome Senators Thune and Moran to this growing bipartisan effort to protect jobs and stabilize utility rates,” said Coats, the lead Republican sponsor of the bill. “The EPA’s current rules and irrational deadlines threaten to impact every American and every sector of our economy. Both industry leaders and labor groups agree that this bipartisan, commonsense solution is needed to ensure Americans are not hit with more layoffs and increased utility rates. Recognizing that the president will not overturn these rules, Congress should provide states and utilities the time needed to prepare and plan.”
“The overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency continues to threaten jobs and wreak havoc on our economy,” said Thune. “American families and businesses need to budget for energy costs and the EPA has created uncertainty that only makes that harder. We need policies that promote stability and foster growth, and I will continue to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make that happen.”
“The EPA’s irrational rules are forcing utilities providers to choose between exposing their customers to rolling blackouts or exposing themselves to criminal penalties,” said Moran. “I am pleased to join Senators Coats and Manchin in supporting this important piece of legislation to allow utilities to continue working on emissions reduction plans while maintaining their ability to provide power to homes and businesses. Utilities providers in the Midwest should be given a compliance period similar to those afforded to other states.”
The National Economic Research Associates (NERA) estimates net employment losses of 1.44 million across the country as a result of the current EPA rules and deadlines. By 2016, NERA estimates that American ratepayers will see an average increase of 11.5 percent. In some regions of the United States, increases of up to 23.5 percent may occur.
The Utility MACT rule requires a decrease in mercury emissions at power plants. The CSAPR requires utilities to reduce power plant emissions that may cause air-quality complications in neighboring states.
The Manchin-Coats bill would provide utilities with an extension of time and synchronize the implementation schedule for complying with the rules. The bill would extend the date of compliance for Utility MACT by two years and for CSAPR by three years changing the deadline for both rules to January 1, 2017. Under the current EPA rules, the compliance date for Utility MACT is January 1, 2015. The deadline for Phase I of the CSAPR is January 1, 2012 and Phase II is January 1, 2014. The Manchin-Coats bill would postpone Phase I until January 1, 2015 and Phase II of CSAPR until January 1, 2017. The compliance date is the date by which a utility either must have installed emissions controls or retired the pant.
The bill also would require utilities to submit implementation plans to ensure compliance occurs. To safeguard the reliability of the electric grid and avoid brownouts, utilities would also submit their implementation plans to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).
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