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Alabama congressmen vote to stall EPA plan that would increase utility bills

Flickr user Peter Nijenhuis
Flickr user Peter Nijenhuis

WASHINGTON– The U.S. House voted 247-180 Wednesday to approve H.R. 2042, the Ratepayer Protection Act which would delay mandatory compliance with EPA emissions rules for power plants.

Alabama legislators account for five of the bill’s 67 bi-partisan co-sponsors with Democrat representative Terri Sewell (AL7) joining Republican representatives Mo Brooks (AL5), Bradley Byrne (AL1), Mike Rogers (AL3), and Martha Roby (AL2).

“According to a recent government study, Obama’s proposed rule would increase electricity prices by approximately 9.4% by 2020 in the Tennessee Valley,” said Congressman Brooks in a press release following the vote.

Representative Gary Palmer (R-AL6), a supporter of the bill, spoke Wednesday in a House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment and Energy hearing to discuss the negative impact of the EPA’s rule.

In 2014, the EPA proposed the ‘Clean Power Plant’ rule which, according to Palmer and other opponents of the rule, would “require power plants to reduce emissions by 30% in the next 15 years in order to achieve little to no environmental benefit.”

The Ratepayer Protection Act would give governors the chance to opt out of the EPA’s rule if they determine it would have a “significant adverse effect” on the state’s residential, commercial, or industrial ratepayers or the reliability of the state’s electricity system.

While Palmer acknowledged that it’s possible the rule could be struck down in court, he added that, “In the meantime, it could do significant economic damage.”

According to Brooks, 12 states have sued the Obama Administration in an attempt to stop what they consider is yet another power grab by the EPA. The Administration has stated that President Obama plans to veto the bill.

“The EPA is misusing the Clean Air Act to force states to implement higher cost greenhouse gas emission standards without regard for the damage ensuing higher utility costs will have on strained American family budgets,” Brooks said.

The legislation would extend the time allowed to states before mandatory compliance with the bill by 60 days.

A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). It is currently unclear whether the House passed legislation or Capito’s bill will make it to the Senate floor.

The Obama Administration has already signaled it would veto the bill.

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