Power outage forces EPA to move climate hearing

Opponents of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rules to reduce power plant carbon emissions are mocking the agency after power outages caused a hearing on the rules to be moved.

The EPA announced late Friday that its two-day hearing scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday at Atlanta’s major federal office building would be moved to a hotel due to “a large scale power outage” at the building.

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“This significant power outage is either cruel irony or a glimpse of a coming cruel reality if the Obama administration and the EPA are successful in their quest to end the use of affordable, reliable coal,” Laura Sheehan, a spokeswoman for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, said in a statement.

The coal group accused the Obama administration of “regulating American coal-based electricity out of existence,” and said officials should instead work to encourage technology that makes coal use cleaner.

In a blog post about the power outages, the Chamber of Commerce warned that the news wasn't satire: “This is not a story from The Onion.”

“Ironically, the carbon regulations that will be discussed at the hearing will make the electrical grid less reliable and more vulnerable to price spikes,” the group said.

The EPA said it was moving the hearing as a precaution and the outages at the federal building had nothing to do with the electrical grid.

“To accommodate the many people who will be attending and speaking at the hearing in Atlanta, we needed to ensure we held the hearing in a guaranteed fully functional facility,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia said in a statement. “We had no way of knowing last week whether it would be ready for tomorrow and out of an abundance of caution we made the decision to move the hearing to a hotel just a few blocks away.”

EPA staffers will be stationed at the federal building to redirect participants who go there, Purchia said.

An electrical problem caused power outages in the Atlanta federal building, which spurred officials to close the structure for most of last week, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It reopened Monday morning. 

The proposed climate rules unveiled in June seek to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent by 2030. The EPA expects that coal will account for 31 percent of the fuel for electricity by 2030 under the rule, compared with 39 percent in 2013.

Updated on July 28 at 12:38 p.m.

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