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Commentary by Heather Reams originally published by RealClearEnergy and RealClearWire
Over the last 20 years, the U.S. has reduced emissions by more than those of the next five countries combined. The federal government should build on this success and empower U.S. energy producers to deploy the next generation of clean-energy technologies—not slow the progress we’ve made with arbitrary deadlines and unnecessary obstacles.
The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Minerals recently hosted a hearing titled, “Clean Power Plan 2.0: EPA’s Latest Attack on America’s Electric Reliability.” The hearing examined a recently proposed rule by the Biden Administration that imposes impractical mandates on powerplants across the U.S. to capture and sequester carbon.
The hearing, led by Subcommittee Chairman Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), focused on concerns shared by members of the committee and Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES) alike: many powerplants driven by American coal and natural gas would face closure under this rule, threatening the resilience and reliability of our electric grid, jeopardizing American clean-energy innovation, and resulting in increased electricity prices and greater reliance on foreign sources of dirtier energy.
Under the Administration’s proposal, spearheaded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. powerplants would be required to adopt carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies and replace fossil fuels with renewable energy or be forced to shut down. American coal plants must commit either to retirement or to cutting back to 20% of maximum capacity by 2032. They are given the option to extend their retirement date to 2040 if they can co-fire with 40% natural gas. Natural gas powerplants are being offered a lifeline, but only if they begin co-firing with hydrogen and ramp up their use of hydrogen content to 96% by 2038.
The EPA recognizes in its proposal that the U.S. power sector continues to make substantial progress toward a clean-energy future, cutting carbon emissions by 36% since 2005. But what the EPA fails to acknowledge is how the rush to implement this rule would redirect valuable resources and likely stymie the very innovation needed for CCS and hydrogen technologies to develop as economically viable solutions. It also ignores other stubborn facts: the infrastructure needed to implement CCS or enable the large-scale production and transportation of hydrogen is not available today, and replacing fossil-fueled powerplants with renewables requires more electric transmission lines. Under current federal permitting processes, these critical improvements may remain out of reach for at least a decade.
As an advocate for emissions reductions, CRES recognizes the value of policies to curb greenhouse gas emissions, but the execution of this plan would be riddled with obstacles.
Communities across the U.S., most notably in California and Texas, are already experiencing more blackouts and grid vulnerabilities. In fact, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation projects that two-thirds of North America faces elevated risk of power shortages and forced blackouts this summer. The U.S. is home to the world’s brightest innovative minds, an abundance of energy resources, and some of the most stringent environmental protection laws. There is no reason that we should be faced with threats of energy insecurity.
Republicans understand that piling on more federal regulations is not what produces U.S. innovation, energy security, and lower emissions. Instead of imposing mandatory emissions requirements, as the Biden Administration would do with this proposed rule, we should continue to empower private companies to develop and embrace American technologies that capture carbon while maintaining jobs in local communities, strengthening our electric grid, and contributing as a global leader in emissions reductions.
Rather than imposing the Clean Power Plan 2.0’s unrealistic timeframes on energy producers, CRES urges the Biden Administration to focus on a commonsense approach to energy strategy: working with our natural gas producers to provide affordable and clean baseload energy to families and businesses across the country; speeding up permitting of clean-energy projects and transmission capabilities to strengthen our electric grid; and empowering Americans to develop the next generation of clean-energy technologies—hydrogen, carbon capture, nuclear power—that will continue to lower emissions for U.S. power generation and manufacturing.
Americans deserve reliable, affordable, and clean homegrown energy. The Biden Administration’s “rush-to-green” agenda is not helping our environment or our economy. Republicans understand how responsible domestic energy development can do both.
Heather Reams is the president of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES).
This article was originally published by RealClearEnergy and made available via RealClearWire.