Kansas Senate bills seek to stall EPA’s regulations

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Senate committee is considering two bills that could delay or prevent enactment of federal clean air rules to regulate carbon emissions from power plants.

The bills before the Senate Utilities Committee this week are in reaction to proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules requiring states to adopt plans to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent by 2030. The rules, which encourage renewable energy and measures to reduce the demand for electricity, are scheduled to take effect in June.

Committee chairman Sen. Rob Olson, R-Olathe, said he plans to have the committee send one of the bills to the Senate on Tuesday, The Lawrence Journal-World reported.

State and industry officials complain the proposed rules give states only one year to submit plans for reductions so steep utilities might have to retire some coal- or gas-fired plants before they can build renewable generating capacity to replace them. The Kansas Corporation Commission has estimated the rules would cost state consumers between $5 billion and $15 billion.

One of the bills would require the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to notify the KCC before it approves any agreements with utilities establishing carbon dioxide emission standards. The KCC also would have to determine the lowest-cost options for acquiring power from other sources and to ensure that the state’s power grid remains reliable.

The second bill, authored by Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political group backed by Charles and David Koch, would prohibit the KCC and health department from drafting a state plan before all litigation surrounding the rules has been resolved. The Legislature would have to approve any plan and rate increases related to greenhouse gas regulations would be capped at 1.5 percent.

Officials from Westar Energy and Kansas City Power & Light gave neutral testimony on the bills but warned the EPA could impose its own emissions plan on Kansas if the state delays submitting its plan.

“We feel like if we’re given enough time, we can do a pretty good job of complying with this,” said Brad Loveless, executive director of environmental services at Westar.

Rodger Wood, a lobbyist for Americans for Prosperity, said Kansas consumers should be concerned about the new rules.

“Both the cost and the reliability issues are going to impact every Kansas resident and every Kansas business that relies on electricity,” Woods said.

Environmental groups also oppose the bills, saying they delay any state reaction to global warming.

 

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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