By Cathy Cash | ECT Staff Writer
Congress registered its disapproval of how the Obama administration wants to proceed on climate change with overwhelming votes against the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.
Following Senate votes, the House on Dec. 1 passed two resolutions of disapproval regarding the regulation that targets carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel generation. The House voted 242-180 for Senate Joint Resolution 24 to halt the Clean Power Plan and 235-188 for Senate Joint Resolution 23 to block EPA’s carbon dioxide standard for new, modified or reconstructed plants.
President Obama has said he will veto the resolutions. Proponents contend that the votes show widespread opposition to the EPA rule for the next administration to consider.
The Clean Power Plan becomes the law of the land Dec. 22 and will require states to reduce carbon dioxide produced within their borders by slashing power plant emissions beginning in 2022.
Electric cooperatives say the rule will force some coal units into premature retirement, threaten reliability and hammer members with more expensive electricity to replace the lost generation.
Lisa Johnson, CEO of Seminole Electric Cooperative in Tampa, Fla., told the White House officials how the EPA rule will shutter the co-op’s 1,300-megawatt generating station in Putnam County and cost the financially-challenged area more than 300 jobs.
Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., whose district includes more than 200,000 electric co-op members, underscored Seminole’s concerns to his House colleagues prior to the vote on the resolutions.
“If the EPA forces the plant to close prematurely, these jobs are at risk and rural electric cooperative members like my constituents will still have to pay for the closed plant in their rates through 2042, while also paying for a new electricity source,” Bilirakis said.