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Lawmakers Ask EPA To Detail Plans And Actions Tied To Reliability Risks

House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans on July 11 sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan asking for the agency to respond to a series of questions related to EPA plans and actions regarding risks to electric reliability. The letter was signed by all 26 committee Republicans.

Following similar letters on risks to electric reliability sent to both the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Department of Energy (DOE), this letter questions many recent actions and proposals by EPA that may impact reliability. 

“In recent months, you announced a suite of EPA actions to target fossil fueled electric generating units, an "EGU Strategy," to drive the Biden Administrations climate agenda,” the House members wrote in their letter.

This strategy includes many major new regulations now under development or proposed: the Interstate Transport Rule, Regional Haze, Risk and Technology Review for the Mercury Air Toxics Rule, a new set of greenhouse gas performance standards, effluent limitations, and a legacy coal combustion residue rule, “all of which directly affect power plants that are essential for reliable electric operations,” the letter said.

“We are concerned that EPA actions threaten to accelerate fossil generation retirements, at the very same time electric system operators report growing shortfalls in such baseload capacity will accelerate blackout risks,” the lawmakers told Regan.

“At a time of widespread economic and inflationary burdens, the last thing this nation needs are agency actions that press headlong into creating a major electricity crisis. Therefore, it is important that Congress have information from EPA to assess how the Agency's actions are affecting electric grid reliability,” the letter said.

Among other things, Regan was asked to describe what specific actions “you are taking or are prepared to take to address energy or electricity emergencies this summer in the bulk power system.”

In addition, the lawmakers want the EPA to list all waivers or other emergency actions being considered or that have been taken over the past two years in connection with electricity reliability.

They also asked for a list of all regulatory actions “you are considering or have taken over the past two years to alleviate electricity reliability risks.”

The letter also asks Regan to detail the agency’s interactions with the DOE, FERC, grid operators and states.

Regan was asked to reply to the questions by July 26, 2022.