Twenty-seven House Democrats, led by former House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-MI), have asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to provide the public an additional two months to comment on the so-called Utility MACT rule. The rule, which was published in early May, establishes new limits on mercury, heavy-metals, and other emissions from coal-fired power plants. It is expected to cost utilities more than ten billion dollars per year. Dingell and his colleagues, including several Blue Dog Coalition members and fellow members of the Michigan delegation, asked EPA to extend the deadline for the Utility MACT comments period from July 3 to September 1.
Noting that the Utility MACT proposal is “unparalleled in its size and scope,” Dingell, who was himself one of the architects of the Clean Air Act, told EPA the rule will have “wide-reaching impacts on the way our country generates and consumes electricity.” Dingell joins congressional Republicans, including Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Public Works Committee ranking member James Inhofe (R-OK) in asking for the comment period extension. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson stated on Wednesday that she has “made no determination” about whether to grant an extension.
EPA has estimated the Utility MACT rule will cause electricity rates across the country to rise by 3.7 percent. While coal-heavy utilities are lobbying heavily for a comment period extension, environmental groups and certain utility groups that largely utilize non-coal fuels in their plants, such as the Clean Energy Group, are urging EPA to deny the extension requests.