U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., have led a bipartisan group of 45 other senators in sending a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy requesting a 120-day public comment period for the agency's proposed regulation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing power plants.
The public typically has 60 days to comment on a proposal once it is published in the federal register, but the senators are calling for more time for stakeholders to study the potential impacts of the standards and offer input.
The EPA is expected to release the first-ever GHG performance standards for existing U.S. power plants on June 2. Although clean energy advocates, including American Wind Energy Association CEO Tom Kiernan, have said the new EPA rules could create a big opportunity for more renewables, the senators argue that the standards could have widely negative effects.
If implemented, the senators say these new limits on emissions could raise energy costs for American families, effectively shut down many existing coal-fired power plants, and hurt coal jobs.
In their letter, the senators stress that utilities, rural electric cooperatives, employees and consumers need sufficient time to analyze the rules and the potential impacts on reliability, electricity providers, jobs and the economy.
The senators write, "Affordable, reliable and redundant sources of electricity are essential to the economic well-being of our states and the quality of life of our constituents. While we all agree that clean air is vitally important, EPA has an obligation to understand the impacts that regulations have on all segments of society."
The full letter is available here.