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Former Assistant Administrator Says EPA Emissions Rule Unlawful

© Nikolay GrigorievPower plant emissions
Power plant emissions - Sputnik International
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During a Wednesday House Science and Technology Committee hearing on EPA regulations to limit power plant emissions by 30 percent by 2030, expert witness and former assistant administrator at the EPA, Jeffrey Holmstead stated that the regulation is a gross overreach of agency powers and is unlawful.

WASHINGTON, July 30 (RIA Novosti) - During a Wednesday House Science and Technology Committee hearing on EPA regulations to limit power plant emissions by 30 percent by 2030, expert witness and former assistant administrator at the EPA, Jeffrey Holmstead stated that the regulation is a gross overreach of agency powers and is unlawful.

“Anyone concerned about the rule of law, will be concerned...about this regulation,” said Holmstead in his opening statement to the Committee. “EPA's proposal goes well beyond its legal authority under the Clean Air Act by trying to force states to regulate anything that produces or uses electricity.”

Holmstead currently deals with environmental law and strategy at the law firm of Bracewell & Giuliani and worked for 25 years on policy, regulatory and legal issues arising under the Clean Air Act (CAA). Holmstead testified, “The agency does not have unfettered authority to regulate carbon emissions in any way the Agency might want.”

The hearing was convened to discuss the recent ruling by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under President Barack Obama's direction, to reduce the CO2 emissions of coal power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. States will have until 2016 to come up with their own plans, otherwise the EPA will administer plans of its own. Aside from concerns over the impacts the ruling will have on electrical grid reliability, the economy, electricity rates, and whether the measures will significantly impact climate change, some legal experts have argued that the ruling is an overreach of EPA authority under the 1970 Clean Air Act.

Members of Congress, like Florida Democrat Frederica Wilson are convinced that dealing with climate change issues, through regulation like improving coal power plant efficiency. During the hearing Wilson stated that “climate change is our reality” and dealing with it will create “jobs, jobs, jobs.”

However, witness Charles McConnell, of the Energy and Environment Initiative at Rice University, was skeptical of the impact the emissions rule will have on climate change stating that the regulation is “really being developed for political leverage in a global climate discussion.”

According to Holmstead, the Obama EPA rule will force EPA staff attention on “remaking the electricity system in all 50 states-something it is not authorized or well equipped to do.” Holmstead concluded, “Rather than devoting so much time and effort to things that are outside its purview, EPA... should do the technical work that will be needed to reduce carbon emissions by establishing legally defensible standards of performance[.]”

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