Republicans attempt to repeal GHG legislation


The Republican-dominated U.S. House of Representatives is preparing legislation that would repeal the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission legislation introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and announced by president Barack Obama in September.

The Energy and Commerce sub-committee of the house passed the Electricity Security and Affordability Act by a vote of 18-11 and the legislation will now be passed to a full meeting of the house.

The proposed law, introduced by Republican Ed Whitfield – chairman of the sub-committee and a representative for Kentucky – and West Virginian Democratic senator Joe Manchin, seeks to prevent the EPA's attempts to tighten greenhouse gas emissions of new and existing fossil fuel power plants by requiring GHG standards to have already been achieved over the course of a year.

The legislation calls for different GHG standards to be set for newly-built natural gas and coal-fired stations and stipulates any limits should have been achieved at six different U.S. locations over a 12-month period.

Lignite power stations to get special treatment

The law also calls for a sub-category for lignite-powered stations for which GHG limits must have been achieved over a year at three different locations.

The Energy and Commerce sub-committee says the requirement for new fossil fuel plants to use carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology which is not yet commercially feasible, passed by the EPA in September, effectively constitutes a ban on new projects.

The proposed legislation also calls for existing fossil fuel plants to be subject to GHG limits only if a federal law is passed stating the date from which such limits would be applied and stipulates the EPA must report to Congress (the House of Representatives and the Democrat-dominated Senate) if it seeks to apply GHG limits to existing power stations.

The EPA is expected to unveil the GHG limits to be applied to existing fossil-fuel plants in June.

If, as expected, the bill is passed by the full committee of the House, it would then face the tougher task of negotiating the Democrat-dominated Senate. Even then, the bill would have to be approved by Obama as there would be little prospect of bypassing the president's rubber-stamp by securing a two-thirds majority at second reading in both houses of Congress.

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