Whitfield/Manchin Bill Would Block EPA Safeguards Against Carbon Pollution

NRDC ``strongly opposes’’ the proposal that shuns clean energy and action on climate

WASHINGTON (November 13, 2013) – Legislation sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WVA) would block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from issuing safeguards to protect the public from carbon pollution, and the Natural Resources Defense Council strongly opposes it,  David Hawkins, NRDC’s director of climate programs, said today in prepared congressional testimony.

The proposal would “repeal EPA’s authority to implement standards for carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas pollutants from existing fossil-fueled power plants and effectively allow the power sector to dictate the terms of any such standards for new coal-fueled power plants,” Hawkins said in testimony submitted for a November 14 hearing in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power.

“This would be a major weakening of the Clean Air Act and NRDC urges you to oppose this legislative proposal,” he said.

Moreover, Hawkins notes, the Whitfield-Manchin proposal wouldn’t help coal producers or communities in coal country as the sponsors might hope. “Rather, it would destroy power sector interest in deploying carbon capture and storage systems -- the one technology that could provide a pathway for more sustainable use of coal,” he said.

Ultimately, the proposal’s most troubling impact would deny an opportunity to address the growing threat of climate change, according to Hawkins. “If this bill became law, it would effectively block any effort to curb fossil fuel power plants’ unlimited dumping of carbon pollution into our air, pushing us ever faster along the path to unmanageable climate disruption,” he said.

More excerpts from Hawkins’ testimony follows:

“The United States and other large carbon-polluting nations urgently need to take sensible steps to create an affordable, reliable energy system that is compatible with protecting the climate.

“EPA also has announced a schedule for guidelines to control carbon pollution from existing power plants, in cooperation with state clean air officials.  NRDC’s own analysis, using an accepted government and industry utility model, demonstrates that it is feasible to achieve significant reductions in the more than two billion tons of annual carbon dioxide pollution from power plants, with benefits of $25 billion to $60 billion annually, compared to compliance costs of about $4 billion.

“If we do not act now to cut these harmful pollutants, we will lock in dangerous changes to our climate system that will result in death, disease and misery for billions of people over hundreds of years into the future.  Fortunately, the United States has the economic strength, technical know-how and policy instruments that can show the world that we can address this threat in a manner that secures our economic future.

“Telling EPA it must ignore this pollution would be a toxic legacy akin to telling the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to set standards for radioactive waste only at levels agreed to by nuclear power plant owners.  Consider what you will say to your own grandchildren when they ask you years from now how you voted on this proposal and why.”

For Hawkins’ full testimony, click here: http://docs.house.gov/meetings/IF/IF03/20131114/101482/HHRG-113-IF03-Wstate-HawkinsD-20131114.pdf