The Southern States Energy Board overwhelmingly rejected the Obama Administration’s so-called “Clean Power Plan” on Monday.
Representatives from the 16 states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands that make up the SSEB voted to adopt a resolution on Sept. 28 in support of legal challenges to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. The resolution -- Policy Resolution 1-2015 -- also encourages governors to consider not submitting a plan for federal approval. Puerto Rico, also an SSEB member, abstained from voting.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is chairman of the SSEB this year, which met this week at The Greenbrier resort. The three-day annual meeting used the theme “Producing America’s Energy and Power,” and focused on the role of the southern states in leading the nation toward international energy partnerships and technology deployment.
Senate President Bill Cole offered Policy Resolution 1-2015 along with other members of the West Virginia delegation, which included Delegates JB McCuskey, R-Kanawha, and Woody Ireland, R-Doddridge. Tomblin supported the resolution in his capacity as chairman of the SSEB.
“I am a proud West Virginian, proud to have leaders like Earl Ray Tomblin and Bill Cole who have the bravery so offer the resolution and the influence to bring together so many states in the fight against EPA’s regulatory overreach,” said Chris Hamilton, co-chairman of the West Virginia Coal Forum, an organization representing business and labor in the coal industry. “This is the latest salvo from the coalfields as we battle our own federal government for the right to work and produce the mineral that powers and builds America.”
Coal Forum co-chairman Fred Tucker said the resolution shows that those who represent thousands of coal miners are committed to protecting their industry.
“When 16 states stand together on a resolution that basically says the federal government is on a path to wreck the American economy, I hope people pay attention,” Tucker said. “This president and his EPA are bad for this country.”
Before the measure passed, practically every state voiced its displeasure with EPA and the Clean Power Plan. The resolution states that “SSEB states produce nearly 50 percent of the nation’s electric power in an affordable, safe, and reliable manner and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and Regional Transmission Organizations are raising cautions about the reliability of the nation’s electric grid in light of the projected retirement of more than 60 Gigawatts (GW) of generating capacity prior to 2020 due to economic considerations and compliance” with the Clean Power Plan and other new EPA rules.
The resolution further states that “29 states do not believe the Clean Power Plan is consistent with EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act” and “interferes with the sovereign powers of the states to regulate electricity within their borders and to ensure a reliable and affordable supply of electricity for their citizens.” The resolution also posits that the plan may be overturned by legal challenges in multiple states.
The resolution ultimately has the SSEB urging the following:
- 1) State attorneys general to take necessary legal actions after EPA issues its final Plan to prevent unlawful obligations from being imposed on states, electricity providers, businesses and citizens; and
- 2 )That pending resolution of all such legal actions, Governors should take such additional actions as may be appropriate to protect the best interests of their states, including, but not limited to, requesting a two-year extension of the deadline to submit a final state plan, refusing to submit a Clean Power Plan under Section 111(d) of the federal Clean Air Act, or working with state environmental agencies to submit an implementation plan that the state deems to be feasible and legally sound regardless of whether the plan conforms to the final rule.
In addition to West Virginia, the SSEB’s members are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, U.S. Virgin Islands and Virginia. Each jurisdiction is represented by the governor and a legislator from the House and the Senate.