U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw a proposed greenhouse emissions rule for electric generation.
In a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Inhofe says the rules rely “on a number of unprecedented and flawed interpretations” of the Clean Air Act and would essentially outlaw new coal-fired generation plants.
Inhofe, R-Tulsa, also says the Clean Air Act was never intended to regulate greenhouse gases.
The EPA issued the standards earlier this year in response to a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision directing the agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and as the result of a 2009 “endangerment finding” that greenhouse gases pose an immediate public health hazard.
The proposed rule would limit carbon dioxide produced by new fossil fuel-powered plants of greater than 25 megawatt capacity to 1,000 pounds per megawatt hour.
Industry sources say even the latest combined cycle natural gas technology would have trouble meeting that standard and that it would be impossible for coal-fired plants.
Some environmental groups have criticized the rule for not addressing emissions from aging coal-fired plants, which they say account for 40 percent of greenhouse gases.
The EPA says the standard is attainable and that the current economics of the industry make new coal-fired plants before 2030 unlikely even without the rule.
Inhofe says the cost of complying with the rule will drive up electric costs.
“If finalized, this rule will transform the American economy,” he wrote. “It would set precedents affecting industries far beyond electric generating units … and extend EPA’s regulatory reach into manufacturing and other regulated entities.”