Republicans on Friday said a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report proved their claims that a pair of environmental rules would harm the economy and electric reliability.
The GAO report released Thursday touched on two forthcoming Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that have drawn criticism from Republicans. Though the report said complying with those rules would pose “reliability challenges,” it maintained those risks were avoidable.
GOP staff from two committees saw the final report differently. They said the report points to glaring problems their members have long identified as significant risks to electric reliability and costs.
“The report confirms the committee’s repeated assertions that EPA’s power sector regulations will raise electricity prices and present serious localized reliability challenges for many coal-dependent parts of the country,” House Energy and Commerce Committee spokeswoman Charlotte Baker told The Hill on Friday. “We are seeing more and more coal plants retire as a result of EPA’s actions, but the administration has yet to account for how this reduced capacity will affect consumers and our ability to keep the lights on.”
The GAO report said between 2 and 12 percent of coal-fired electric capacity would come offline as a result of the rules. It said cheap natural gas might push power plant operators to voluntarily shutter expensive coal-fired plants.
Still, the report also echoed Republican and utility industry claims that meeting compliance deadlines would be difficult because the technology needed to clean up power plants is not widely available, a point that Baker emphasized.
“Utilities and local officials have warned the required compliance timelines are unachievable and will severely challenge electric reliability throughout the implementation process,” she said.