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WASHINGTON, D.C. â€“ U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, sent letters to Environment Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and Office of Management and Budget Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Cass Sunstein regarding the lack of response to previous questions about the proposed Mercury and Air Toxic Standards or â€œUtility MACT rule.â€
The letter calls upon EPA and OMB to answer questions that have been pending for months, and asks new and potentially disturbing questions about EPA’s apparent decision last spring to avoid public comment on the potential reliability impacts of the sweeping major Utility MACT rule.
“I continue to be very concerned about the effects the proposed Utility MACT rule could have on electric reliability,” Murkowski said. “And, I find it extremely troubling that EPA has been unable or unwilling to respond to our multiple requests for answers on the proposed Utility MACT rule. Moreover, it now appears the Agency was going to solicit public comment on reliability but decided against it. Clearly, we need answers.”
“It is clear that EPA is recklessly moving ahead with Utility MACT, one of the most expensive rules in history, without taking electric reliability seriously,” Inhofe said. “If EPA is so sure that Utility MACT will not cause blackouts, why is the Agency including a last minute ‘safety valve’? If EPA regulators have nothing to hide, why have they failed three times to respond to our reasonable inquiries about grid reliability? We will continue to pursue these questions until we have answers.”
“After months of ignoring requests that EPA take additional time to study and address the Utility MACT rule’s impact on electric reliability, the agency only recently agreed to a 30-day extension for promulgating the rule,” Murkowski and Inhofe wrote. “The 30-day extension represents EPA’s first acknowledgement that the November deadline was unrealistic.”
The senators also note that the 30-day extension will likely be inadequate if the agency makes changes to the rule after reviewing the 22,000 unique comments they received.
“Hastily shoe horning a ‘safety-valve’ into a final rule is not a sufficient response to reliability and price concerns,” the senators wrote.
The senators are now seeking the involvement of Administrator Sunstein to obtain answers to these and other questions about the substance and timetable for inter-agency review of the Utility MACT rule. They hope that Administrators Sunstein and Jackson will work together to get timely answers to these critical questions, which continue to mount.
The full letter can be found here.