Capito, Hoeven Introduce Measure to Ensure Reliable Affordable Energy from Coal Power

 WASHINGTON — Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) joined Senator Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) today to introduce the bipartisan Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act (ARENA Act). The legislation addresses the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) effort to circumvent Congress and impose new rules on power plants that will drive up costs for consumers and kill good jobs.

A bipartisan group of nine senators joined Capito and Hoeven at a press conference this afternoon to unveil the legislation, which will ensure reliable and affordable energy, put jobs and our economy first, and curb federal overreach.

“The EPA’s new rules will discourage investment,” Hoeven said. “Instead, we should be empowering investment in new technologies that will help us produce more energy with good environmental stewardship. That’s exactly what we’re doing in North Dakota. Our energy companies have invested billions in technologies that produce energy more cost-effectively and with better environmental stewardship.”

Hoeven cited a partnership he helped to forge between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the University of North Dakota (UND) Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC). Earlier this week, the senator announced that the DOE has entered into a two-year Cooperative Agreement with the EERC to develop technologies to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels. He said this is just the kind of work that will attract investment and lead to technologies that will help increase energy production with good environmental stewardship.

To address concerns about the new rules, the ARENA Act:

  • Creates safe harbor for states to protect ratepayers: No state shall be required to implement a state or federal plan that the state’s governor determines it would negatively impact economic growth, the reliability of the electricity system, or electricity ratepayers.
  • Extends compliance dates: The bill would extend the rule’s compliance dates pending final judicial review, including the dates for submission of state plans.  
  • Prevents mandates for unproven technology: Requires EPA to set a technology-based standard for new power plants only if it can be achieved for at least 12-months at 6 separate power facilities throughout the country. The bill also prevents EPA from using any demonstration projects – projects that are reliant on federal support – from being used to set the standard.
  • Prevents highway fund sanctions: The bill would prevent EPA from withholding highway funds from any states for noncompliance with the Clean Power Plan.

Thirty-two states have expressed opposition to the Clean Power Plan and 12 states have challenged the EPA in court.

Cosponsors of the bill are Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senators James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Tom Wicker (R-Miss.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).