The Fair Compliance Act of 2011, introduced Nov. 9 by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Dan Coats, R-Ind., would lengthen timelines and establish benchmarks for utilities to comply with two major Environmental Protection Agency air pollution rules.
The legislation would extend the compliance deadline for the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, or CSAPR, by three years and the deadline for the Utility MACT rule by two years — setting both to Jan. 1, 2017.
The CSAPR requires utilities to reduce power plant emissions that may cause air-quality problems in downwind states. The Utility MACT rule requires a decrease in mercury emissions at power plants.
Under the current EPA rules, the compliance date for Phase I of the CSAPR is Jan. 1, 2012 and Phase II is Jan. 1, 2014. The bill would postpone Phase I until Jan. 1, 2015 and Phase II until Jan. 1, 2017.
The current compliance date for Utility MACT is January 1, 2015.
The compliance date is the date by which a utility either must have installed emissions controls or retired the pant
The bill would protect jobs and keep utility rates stable, the senators said.
"With millions of jobs on the line in this country — and especially in my state of West Virginia — it just makes sense to work to make sure we don't lose any more jobs in putting these rules in place," Manchin said.
"While I support a complete overturn of these rules, this bill is a bipartisan commonsense solution that gives states and utilities the time needed to plan and prepare," Coats said.
The senators' media release cited a study commissioned by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity that estimated employment losses of 1.44 million job-years from 2013 to 2020 across the nation. Job-years lost in West Virginia were estimated at 38,500, representing about 4,800 jobs. The group also estimated electric rate increases of 11.5 percent on average.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers praised the bill.
"Under the current deadline, too many companies will be forced to shut down their plants, unnecessarily pitting jobs against the environment," says IBEW President Edwin D. Hill in a prepared statement. "But by giving companies more time to invest in clean-air technologies, this legislation will create more jobs for construction workers, who are suffering from some of the highest unemployment rates in the country."