Legislative Activity

Energy and Commerce to Consider Bill to Limit EPA’s Regulatory Authority

On Monday, January 13, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a markup vote on H.R. 3826, the “Electricity Security and Affordability Act.” The legislation seeks to curtail the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) ability to control greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions from new or existing fossil-fired power plants under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act unless a number of conditions are met. Among other limitations, the bill would force EPA to separate coal and natural gas power plants into two distinct categories and regulate the two sources in different ways, and would prevent EPA from setting a standard for coal-fired plants based on the “best system of emission” unless at least six coal-fired power plants have utilized that system and achieved the emission standard target for one continuous 12-month period. In essence, this approach would prevent EPA from requiring coal-fired power plants to install carbon capture and sequestration (“CCS”) technology for at least 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, as EPA has proposed to do in its proposed rule to control GHS emissions from new power plants, because there are only four facilities in the U.S. that are slated to come on line equipped in some way with CCS technology.

This Week’s Hearings

  • Thursday, January 16: the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing titled “Review of the President’s Climate Action Plan.”

Regulatory Activity

EPA Publishes Proposed Rule to Govern GHG Emissions from New Power Plants

On Wednesday, January 8, the EPA published its proposed rule to limit GHG emissions from new power plants in the Federal Register. While EPA circulated a draft version of the proposed rule this past fall, publication of the official proposal triggers a 60-day public comment period which will end on March 10. Additionally, the EPA will hold a public hearing at the agency’s headquarters on January 28 where stakeholders may address the proposal.

President Obama Directs Production of Quadrennial Energy Review Report

On Thursday, January 9, President Barack Obama issued a memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies directing the establishment of a Quadrennial Energy Review Task Force (“Task Force”) that would be responsible for producing a Quadrennial Energy Review Report (“Quadrennial Report”) every four years evaluating various aspects of U.S. energy policy. The Task Force will consist of an interagency contingent of at least 22 departments and agencies, and is directed to develop an “integrated review of energy policy that integrates” the perspectives of both government and non-government stakeholders, and that builds upon the policy foundations laid out in the President’s Climate Action Plan and Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future. The Task Force will also be responsible for coordinating the development of the Quadrennial Report, the first of which will be due to the President by January 31, 2015, and will focus on U.S. energy infrastructure. The Department of Energy will support the Task Force’s work and help coordinate the interagency effort.