May 13 2015
WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) today joined U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) as an original co-sponsor of the bipartisan Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act (ARENA), legislation to rollback President Barack Obama’s burdensome Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) greenhouse gas regulations for both new and existing power plants. The legislation would ensure reliable and affordable energy, put jobs and the economy first, and curb federal overreach. To view Blunt’s remarks at a press conference today regarding the introduction of the bill, CLICK HERE.
“Middle and low-income households are disproportionately hurt by bad energy policies resulting in high utility bills, because these are the consumers who already spend a greater share of their paychecks on energy,” said Blunt. “President Obama previously admitted that costs would ‘necessarily skyrocket’ under his energy policies, and unfortunately, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan would hit the poorest and most vulnerable Missourians the hardest. I’m pleased to join my colleagues on this important bill to allow Missouri and other states to protect workers and families from the Obama Administration’s burdensome energy regulations, and I’ll keep fighting to support Missouri’s economic competitiveness.”
Blunt has been a vocal opponent to the Obama Administration’s costly energy polices and over-regulation. In March 2015, Blunt co-sponsored an amendment to the FY2016 budget that would establish a reserve fund for legislation to allow any state to opt out of the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations under CPP. In December 2014, he filed comments urging the EPA to withdraw the proposed CPP rule for existing power plants. And in January 2014, he led a bipartisan group of 21 Senators in sending a letter to President Obama urging him to stop punishing the most vulnerable American families with higher utility bills.
Key Provisions of the ARENA Act Include:
- Prevents mandates for unproven technology: Before EPA can set a technology-based standard for new power plants, the standard must first be achieved for at least one year at several separate power facilities throughout the country. The bill also prevents the EPA from using any demonstration projects –projects that are reliant on federal support – from being used to set the standard.
- Extends compliance dates: The bill would extend the rule’s compliance dates pending final judicial review, including the dates for submission of state plans.
- Holds EPA accountable: This bill would require EPA to issue state-specific model plans demonstrating how each state could meet the required GHG emissions reductions under the rule.
- Enables states to protect ratepayers: The bill would provide that no state shall be required to implement a state or federal plan that the state’s governor determines would negatively impact economic growth, negatively impact the reliability of the electricity system or negatively impact electricity ratepayers.
- Protects highway fund dollars: The bill would prevent the EPA from withholding highway funds from any states for noncompliance with the “Clean Power Plan.”
The ARENA Act, which takes into account EPA’s proposed regulations for both new and existing power plants, also requires EPA to submit to Congress a report describing the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions the Clean Power Plan is expected to reduce, and to conduct modeling to show the impacts of the rule on the climate indicators used to develop the rule.
Missourians have historically relied on coal to power over 80 percent of our electricity and, as a result, enjoyed below average electricity rates in 2012. A study by Energy Venture Analysis on the effects of the CPP, combined with several recent EPA power plant regulations, found that Missourians’ annual electric and gas utility bills would cost around $1,000 more in 2020 as compared to 2012 – almost a 50 percent increase.
An analysis from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) found that, in 2013, more than 50 percent of families in Missouri earned on average $50,000 or less. According to U.S. Census Bureau Data used in the ACCCE analysis, these families devoted an average of 20 percent of their disposable income to energy costs in 2013.
Missouri is home to 13 rural counties with persistent poverty, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Each county happens to be served by a rural electric cooperative. Rural electric cooperatives serve 93 percent of the nation’s persistent poverty counties and are almost 80 percent dependent on coal-fired power. Therefore, ratepayers living in rural poverty are among the most vulnerable to these EPA regulations.