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Blunt joins 40 senators urging Obama to withdraw job-killing EPA rule on greenhouse gases
Blunt joins 40 senators urging Obama to withdraw job-killing EPA rule on greenhouse gases

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 4, 2014) — U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) joined 40 of his colleagues in a letter today urging President Barack Obama to withdraw his Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) devastating rule to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. The letter notes that the president’s EPA rule would result in higher electricity bills, a decrease in a family’s disposable income, and job losses throughout the economy all for no tangible impact on global climate. 

The letter, which was led by U.S. Senator David Vitter (La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), states that the president’s rule “goes beyond the plain reading of the Clean Air Act, and it, like [the] Climate Action Plan, includes failed elements from the cap-and-trade program rejected by the United States Senate.” 

“This proposed rule continues your Administration’s effort to ensure that American families and businesses will pay more for electricity, an important goal emphasized during your initial campaign for President, and suffer reduced reliability as well,” the Senators wrote. “Removing coal as a power source from the generation portfolio – which is a direct and intended consequence of your Administration’s rule – unnecessarily reduces reliability and market flexibility while increasing costs. As you are aware, low-income households spend a greater share of their paychecks on electricity and will bear the brunt of rate increases.”

Yesterday, Blunt co-sponsored the “Coal Country Protection Act,” which was introduced by McConnell to block President Obama’s proposed EPA rule unless appropriate agencies can prove it will not eliminate jobs, cost our economy, increase electricity prices, or reduce electricity reliability. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) blocked a vote on the bill this morning.

Missouri relies on coal for the vast majority of the state’s electricity needs, and Blunt has long-fought against the Obama Administration’s burdensome energy policies. Last month, Blunt introduced an amendment to protect families from skyrocketing energy costs that would result from a carbon tax. He introduced similar amendments to prevent a carbon tax in April 2014 to the unemployment insurance bill, and in March 2013 to the FY14 budget. In January 2014, Blunt led a letter with a bipartisan group of 21 Senators urging the president not to punish the most vulnerable Americans with higher utility bills.

To read the entire letter, please see below or click here.

June 3, 2014

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

We write to express our concerns with your proposed rule for existing power plants emissions of greenhouse gases.

Our primary concern is that the rule as proposed will result in significant electricity rate increases and additional energy costs for consumers.  These costs will, as always, fall most heavily on the elderly, the poor, and those on fixed incomes.  In addition, these costs will damage families, businesses, and local institutions such as hospitals and schools.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently unveiled a study indicating that a plan of this type would increase America’s electricity bills, decrease a family’s disposable income, and result in job losses. 

This proposed rule continues your Administration’s effort to ensure that American families and businesses will pay more for electricity, an important goal emphasized during your initial campaign for President, and suffer reduced reliability as well.  Removing coal as a power source from the generation portfolio – which is a direct and intended consequence of your Administration’s rule – unnecessarily reduces reliability and market flexibility while increasing costs. As you are aware, low-income households spend a greater share of their paychecks on electricity and will bear the brunt of rate increases.

In your haste to drive coal and eventually natural gas from the generation portfolio, your Administration has disregarded whether EPA even has the legal authority under the Clean Air Act to move forward with this proposal, the dubious benefit of prematurely forcing the closure of even more base load power generation from America’s electric generating fleet, and the obvious signal this past winter’s cold snap sent regarding our continued need for reliable, affordable coal-fired generation.

In fact, your existing source proposal goes beyond the plain reading of the Clean Air Act, and it, like your Climate Action Plan, includes failed elements from the cap-and-trade program rejected by the United States Senate. You need only look back to June 2008 for a repudiation of that type of approach by the United States Senate.  On June 2, 2008, the Senate debate began on S. 3036, the Climate Security Act, a cap-and-trade bill, and ended in defeat on June 6, when the Senate refused to invoke cloture. Since that time, Majority Leader Harry Reid has avoided votes that would provide a record of the Senate’s ongoing and consistent disapproval of your unilateral action. 

Including emissions sources beyond the power plant fence as opposed to just those emissions sources inside the power plant fence creates a cap-and-trade program.  As you noted in the wake of the initial failure of cap-and-trade, “There are many ways to skin a cat,” and your Administration seems determined to accomplish administratively what they failed to achieve through the legislative process.  

At a time when manufacturers are moving production from overseas to the U.S. and investing billions of dollars in the process, we are very concerned that an Administration with a poor management record decided to embark on a plan that will result in energy rationing, pitting power plants against refineries, chemical plants, and paper mills, for the ability to operate when coming up against EPA’s emissions requirements. A management decision that eliminates access to abundant, affordable power puts U.S. manufacturing at a competitive disadvantage. 

Moreover, there is substantial reason and historical experience to justify our belief that at the end of the rulemaking process, EPA will use its authority to constrain State preferences with respect to program design, potentially going so far as dictating policies that restrict when American families can do the laundry or run the air conditioning. Such impositions practically guarantee that costs, which will of course be passed along to ratepayers, will be maximized, the size and scope of the federal government will expand, and the role of the States in our system of cooperative federalism will continue to diminish.

Finally, we are concerned that there is almost no assessment of costs that will be imposed by this program.  Again, if history is any guide, the costs imposed on U.S. businesses and families will be significant and far exceed EPA’s own estimate.  More disturbingly, the benefits that may result from this unilateral action – as measured by reductions in global average temperature or reduced sea level rise, or increase in sea ice, or any other measurement related to climate change that you choose – will be essentially zero. We know this because in 2009, your former EPA Administrator testified that “U.S. action alone would not impact world CO2 levels.” If these assumptions are incorrect, please don’t hesitate to provide us with the data that proves otherwise.

We strongly urge you to withdraw this rule.

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