House Republican seeks to corner Dems on climate rules

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) has a plan to ensure that senators running for reelection in 2014 are confronted with the climate change rules that he argues will harm the economy.

Whitfield, a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, will soon unveil legislation to soften the Environmental Protection Agency regulations that are set to put big hurdles in front of efforts to build new coal-fired power plants.

“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 to have a discussion with whoever their opponent may be about the future of fossil fuel in America,” Whitfield told reporters on the sidelines of an energy forum at the Canadian embassy.

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Whitfield did not name names, but a number of Democrats from conservative-leaning states are facing reelection in 2014.

The EPA plans to finalize emissions standards next year that would require any new coal plants to trap a significant amount of their carbon emissions.

Critics of the rules call them a de facto ban on new coal plants, arguing that carbon capture and storage technology is nowhere near widespread, cost-effective commercialization.

Whitfield said the bill would set standards that would enable “cleanest, best, new plants” to be constructed using “existing technology.”

He said the bill would also enable Congress to establish when planned EPA carbon standards for existing power plants would take effect.

The Kentucky lawmaker, whose state is a major coal producer, said he is “99.9 percent” sure that GOP leadership will bring the legislation to the floor and predicted it will happen before the end of the year.

Whitfield said he wants to use the bill to create a “national debate” about the White House climate change policy.

He also said he has been working with a group of Democratic senators on the bill, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

Whitfield spoke at an event on U.S.-Canada energy ties hosted by the embassy, an industry group called the Consumer Energy Alliance, TransCanada Corp., and other groups.