EPA ‘listening tour’ on climate rules skips states powered by coal

The Environmental Protection Agency’s national tour to solicit feedback on power plant regulations won’t stop in states that rely heavily on coal for electricity, House Republicans said Wednesday.

ADVERTISEMENT
Citing figures kept by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, the panel’s Republicans note that the EPA hasn’t scheduled sessions in any of the 10 states with the highest percentage of electricity generated from coal.

“Despite being the most impacted, all of these states are missing from EPA’s tour schedule,” a blog post from the panel’s Republicans notes. “That means Americans that may be the hardest hit by EPA’s regulations will need to travel hundreds of miles to ensure their concerns about electricity prices and the impacts on their jobs are heard.”

The EPA has announced 11 meetings over the next two months to gather input from interested parties and members of the public as the agency prepares to propose new limits on carbon emissions from existing power plants. The draft rule, due out in June of next year for public review, is a central component of President Obama’s initiative to counter the effects of global warming.

“The feedback from these 11 public listening sessions will play an important role in helping EPA develop smart, cost-effective guidelines that reflect the latest and best information available,” the EPA said upon announcing the dates. The sessions are to be held at EPA regional offices, which oversee large swathes of the country.

But Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee say the tour “conspicuously” avoids states where the contentious regulations stand to increase electricity costs the most.

Ignoring states that stand to face electricity price spikes amounts to “selective listening,” the lawmakers asserted.

The EPA’s planned stops, however, do include states that produce large amounts of coal. The tour includes dates in Illinois, Texas and Pennsylvania — which all ranked in the top ten as recently as 2011, according to National Mining Association figures.

The criticism follows the introduction Tuesday of a House resolution urging the EPA to hold listening sessions in each of the 15 states most reliant on coal for electricity.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) introduced the resolution, which attracted 17 co-sponsors.

“Excluding all of the states that rely on coal the most from the listening process smacks of outright arrogance by the agency and is a transparent attempt to avoid hearing opinions that differ from the EPA’s preconceived ideas,” Capito said in a statement issued this week. 

This story was updated at 5:52 p.m.