House mounts attack on Obama's climate rules

The House is set to vote on a bill Thursday that would scale back the Environmental Protection Agency's carbon emissions rules for new coal-fired power plants.

But if the bill somehow reaches President Obama's desk, he will veto it, the White House said on Tuesday.

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Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) co-sponsored the bill, H.R. 3826, which the House will begin debating on Wednesday afternoon before likely holding a vote on Thursday.

Whitfield argues EPA's proposed rule is a de facto ban on new power plants because it pushes carbon capture technology that simply isn't ready. The bill would scrap the requirement for carbon capture systems in new plants.

It would also put a substantial hurdle before the EPA's plan to issue greenhouse gas limits for existing coal power plants. EPA chief Gina McCarthy has said the agency is on track to release its proposed rule for existing plants in June.

But Whitfield's legislation would prevent the rule from being enforced until Congress passes a bill setting the effective date.

In a statement on Tuesday, the administration blasted the legislation, stating it would "stifle progress in reducing carbon pollution by discouraging the adoption of currently available and effective technology, and would limit further development of cutting-edge clean energy technologies." 

"Finally, the bill could delay indefinitely reductions in carbon pollution from existing power plants by prohibiting forthcoming rules from taking effect until Congress passes legislation setting the effective date of the rules," the administration said.

It is unlikely the bill will pass the Senate, but getting it there in the first place may be a win for Whitfield.

"We are going to mark this legislation up, we are going to get it to the floor, we want to get it over to the Senate, and we want those senators running next year to have a discussion with whoever their opponent may be about the future of fossil fuel in America,” Whitfield said at an energy forum at the Canadian embassy in October.

Whitfield hopes the bill will fuel a "national debate" about the White House's climate change policy, which is strongly opposed by Republicans in Congress.