The Environmental Protection Agency has yet to explain how it can legally require new coal-fired power plants to install carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology.
House Republicans wrote to the agency in November after the EPA announced its proposed rule on power plant emissions. Lawmakers expressed concerns that the EPA was breaking federal law by requiring coal plants to use CCS technology. The agency has still not responded, but did publish its rule in the Federal Register Wednesday.
“We still have yet to receive a response to our letter questioning the legality, but EPA appears to be moving full speed ahead with this proposed rule despite the concerns we raised that it is in clear violation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005,” said Kentucky Rep. Ed Whitfield, an opponent of the EPA’s new power plant rule.
The coal industry and Republican lawmakers have said that the CCS requirement is in violation of federal law because CCS is not commercially proven. Environmentalists and the EPA contend that CCS has been commercially proven.
The agency says CCS has been “adequately demonstrated”, citing three government-backed projects being built in the U.S. and one small-scale Canadian government-funded project.
Republicans argue that this is in violation of the Environmental Policy Act of 2005 which prohibits the EPA from labeling technology as “adequately demonstrated” if it’s receiving government funding.
“We will continue our vigorous oversight of this rulemaking, which has been fraught with irregularities, and we continue to believe that EPA is acting far beyond the scope of its legal authority at the detriment of the American public,” the lawmakers continued.
President Obama promised to crack down on carbon emissions from coal plants as part of his plan to make the U.S. a leader on addressing global warming. In response, the EPA and other federal agencies began crafting new regulations aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions — which some scientists and environmentalists say cause global warming.