Tomorrow, the House is expected to vote on the H.R. 2042, the Ratepayer Protection Act. The bill well-deserves every vote it gets on the way to passage.
It’s a commonsense measure that basically codifies how EPA interpreted the Clean Air Act for three decades before the Obama administration. In the late 1970s, EPA promulgated a rule that allowed States to exempt sources from regulation under the “existing source performance standards” program, which is the same provision that authorizes EPA’s controversial Clean Power Plan. EPA, however, made no mention of these variances in its proposed Clean Power Plan. The Ratepayer Protection Act would reintroduce this practice by allowing Governors to opt out the rule if he/she determines it would have an unacceptable impact on energy prices or electric reliability.
In addition, the bill would delay implementation of the Clean Power Plan until judicial review ran its course. This is necessary to correct a potential injustice attributable to the slow wheels of justice. On the one hand, capital-intensive businesses like utilities must plan on 4+ years horizons. On the other, it takes about three years for Clean Air Act rules to endure judicial review (brashly assuming SCOTUS grants cert). The unfortunate result is that utilities, in the name of certainty, may lock in implementation of the Clean Power Plan, before we know whether or not the rule is illegal.**The Ratepayer Protection Act would preclude this unfair outcome***
Below, find a coalition letter in support of the legislation. It’s signed by 14 organizations, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute:
**Consider the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which EPA promulgated in February 2012. In the very near future (as soon as Thursday), the Supreme Court will render a ruling on the permissibility of the rule. However, InsideEPA reported last month that 60-75% of utilities already have committed the time and money to comply with the rule. So even if the rule is found to be illegal—AND IT SHOULD BE, AS IT’S ABSURD—it doesn’t really matter.
***All this having been said, I’m confident the rule will be stayed, especially if the panel remains the same.