By Charles Boothe
May 12, 2023 - Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said Thursday she will introduce a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution of disapproval to try to stop a new EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) proposal that could close many coal-fired electricity generating plants by 2032.
Under the EPA proposal, coal and gas-fired power plants would be required to eliminate almost all carbon dioxide emissions in about 15 years, which, Capito said, is an “unrealistic” expectation.
“The parameters of this are not only crushing to tens of thousands of people who work in and around our coal industry in our state but also to natural gas,” she said during a virtual press briefing. “To me, this is an answer to a political agenda on the environmental side that the President has moved forward on. He’s got the EPA moving forward on this.”
Capito said the new “Clean Power Plan 2.0” is expected to face “enormous legal challenges.”
A “better transition is needed” to give time for the technology behind carbon sequestration to be ready to use, she said, referring to the process that captures and stores atmospheric carbon dioxide.
“I don’t know where this will put West Virginia except in the crosshairs of the destruction of jobs, competitiveness and other areas where we will be severely punished,” she said. “A more gradual and transition period is what we need.”
Capito said she thinks the CRA should pick up support from some Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
“This is such an overreach by the administration,” she said of the EPA’s plan. “I think we can get Democrats’ support on this.”
Capito said the aggressive EPA measures to turn to renewables is not realistic or practical.
“These are unrealistic goals,” she said. “I think it’s more a call to their political supporters. There has been a big outcry when this administration, and rightly so, permitted a large project in Alaska (Willow Project) recently, a fossil project that had been on the books for, I think, two decades … Anytime you do that you’ve got to make up for it in this environment and to the supporters in Biden’s Democratic Party.”
The goal of 60 percent of Americans driving electric vehicles by 2032 in conjunction with being unable to site a mine (for basic energy needs) is just not practical, she added.
“It’s the impracticality that just galls me,” she said of the Biden administration’s aggressive approach to switch to renewables and moving forward with “very extreme measures.”
“The impracticality of where they want to take this is just stark, in my view,” she said. “Do we want to become Europe where we would be paying $10 a gallon for gas and where we have to beg an entity like Russia for our natural gas? No. We can be energy independent here, we can move the technology to make sure we are driving down emissions as we are doing every year. We can do that all at the same time, but not if you cut out one big, large baseline energy production that has brought us to be the most prosperous nation ever.”
Another factor is being able to move power generated by renewables.
“They don’t have the transmission lines that must be in place for the renewable projects,” she said. “Transmission lines must be permitted and you can’t get anything permitted … Where is our baseload energy going to come from? I don’t see that in that regulation. You can’t site a nuclear power plant either.”
Capito said the EPA has already tried this “illegal overreach, which was ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court, but not before it devastated communities in West Virginia and across the country.”
“It’s reprehensible that this administration would clamp down even further on domestic energy production while advancing policies meant to increase demand for electricity,” she said. “I plan to introduce a Congressional Review Act resolution of disapproval to protect workers and families from the disastrous impacts of these latest job-killing regulations.”
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey also responded to the EPA proposal Thursday.
“Based upon what we currently know about this proposal, it is not going to be upheld, and it just seems designed to scare more coal-fired power plants into retirement—the goal of the Biden administration,” Morrisey said in a statement. “That tactic is unacceptable, and this rule appears to utterly fly in the face of the rule of law. The U.S. Supreme Court has placed significant limits on what the EPA can do—we plan on ensuring that those limits are upheld, and we expect that we would once again prevail in court against this out-of-control agency. We urge everyone not to fall for this clear attempt to accomplish what the law doesn’t allow. We need the plants to stay open.”
Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-9th District-Va., also responded to the EPA plan which mandates that coal and natural gas power plants would have to cut or capture most carbon dioxide emissions by 2038.
“Once again, today’s proposed rule by the EPA is another example of the agency prioritizing their flawed Green New Deal agenda without considering the real-life negative consequences of this rushed transition,” he said. “Today’s proposal further risks the security and reliability of our country’s electric grid, which could lead to energy shortages and rolling blackouts like those experienced across several states this past winter. The EPA must take a more balanced approach when setting new regulations, as Americans still rely on these types of baseload power for most of their energy needs.”
Griffith said he pushed Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on the Administration’s policies of actually “causing more coal and natural gas power plants to close, decreasing grid reliability. This is similar to what happened in China last summer, when China experienced blackouts.”
The EPA says the new carbon pollution standards for coal and natural gas-fired power plants “will protect public health, reduce harmful pollutants and deliver up to $85 billion in climate and public health benefits over the next two decades.”