Waxman Rails Against Bill to Block Power-Plant Regs

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif. (National Journal)

House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., slammed lower-chamber conservatives on Tuesday for supporting a bill designed to limit Environmental Protection Agency regulations for new and existing power plants.

Waxman called the legislation, introduced in the House and Senate this month by Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., "a recipe for disaster."

"The bill before us would upend the Clean Air Act," Waxman said during a markup of the legislation by the Energy and Power Subcommittee. "Republicans are starting 2014 right where they left off in 2013. They're denying the science of climate change, ignoring the risks, and trying to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from protecting the American people from air pollution."

The bill would block EPA's proposed new source performance standards for future power plants. It would also eliminate the regulation's requirement that new plants install carbon-capture-and-storage technology and give Congress the power to determine a start date for forthcoming EPA regulations for existing plants.

Waxman was the only member of the panel to propose an amendment to the bill. The amendment stated that limits on EPA's authority should not be permitted to take effect until an alternative standard yielding the same overall reduction in carbon emissions was proposed. It failed to pass, however.

Republicans on the panel defended the legislation, saying that EPA's standard for future plants has not yet been commercially demonstrated and therefore is not achievable.

"When EPA's proposal becomes finalized it will be impossible to build a new coal-fired power plant in this country because the technology is not available," Whitfield, who chairs the subcommittee, said in his opening statement.

The panel advanced the bill to the full committee on an 18-11 vote.