House passes legislation to restore oversight on energy policy

HouseGOP2016 General Assembly, Energy, Issues

RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia House of Delegates on Wednesday passed legislation to require General Assembly approval of Virginia’s implementation of the federal Clean Power Plan, restoring legislative oversight of energy regulations.  House Bill 2, introduced by Delegate Israel O’Quinn (R-Washington), passed the House of Delegates by 66-34.

In June of 2014, President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency proposed the “Clean Power Plan,” a complex set of regulations intended to reduce carbon emissions without legislative action from Congress. The proposed EPA plan would require all power companies to reduce carbon output by 32 percent from 2005 levels. This rule applies to existing power generation facilities, meaning companies will have to undertake expensive retrofitting projects. The EPA will set carbon reduction targets for each state, which will have to develop a plan by 2016 to meet the targets.

The bill would restore legislative oversight by requiring the Department of Environmental Quality to receive approval from the General Assembly for a state implementation plan to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.

“This legislation stops overreaching federal regulations from being implemented in Virginia,” saidSpeaker Howell (R-Stafford).  “The Clean Power Plan proposed by President Obama will have a devastating impact on Virginia’s economy, killing jobs and significantly driving up energy costs for families and businesses.  It is critical that the people have a say in the energy policy of the commonwealth through their elected representatives, not by unelected bureaucrats in Washington and Richmond.  I am glad to see the House passed this important piece of legislation to give Virginia citizens a voice.”

“No area of the Commonwealth has felt the effects of the war on coal more than Southwest Virginia,” said Delegate Israel O’Quinn (R-Washington).  “The independent and nonpartisan State Corporation Commission estimates these regulations will increase electricity costs in Virginia by $5.5 to $6 billion and force the closure of reliable power plants ahead of schedule.  This will disproportionately impact seniors and the working poor. By passing this legislation, we can ensure that their voices are heard in this process.”

“The entire Commonwealth will feel the effects of these overreaching regulations and President Obama’s continued war on coal,” said Delegate Scott Taylor (R-Virginia Beach).  “At a time when so many Virginia families are struggling, the last thing they need to face is an unprecedented rise in utility rates.  When energy costs go up, it makes it harder for working-class families to afford a home and harder for seniors to stay in their homes. This legislation will protect those that seek to face the most harm by giving the people’s elected representatives the final say over how Virginia complies with these burdensome and costly regulations.”