McMorris Rodgers leads GOP effort to determine EPA’s impact on electric grid reliability

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) led two dozen of her GOP colleagues on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee in requesting information on how actions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are impacting the nation’s electric grid reliability.

In a July 12 letter sent to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, the Republican committee members noted that the North American Electric Reliability Corporation in May warned that more than half of the nation is at elevated risk of forced blackouts this summer.

“Because of this and other troubling assessments, we wrote the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy for information to help us assess what federal authorities are doing to prepare for and to alleviate the immediate risks to reliability this summer,” the members wrote. “We believe the EPA should also account for its plans and actions.”

Among the 25 committee Republicans who joined Rep. McMorris Rodgers in signing the letter were U.S. Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI), Michael Burgess (R-TX), Bob Latta (R-OH), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Billy Long (R-MO), Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Buddy Carter (R-GA), John Curtis (R-UT), John Joyce (R-PA), and Kelly Armstrong (R-ND).  

Specifically, Rep. McMorris Rodgers, who is the committee’s ranking member, and her colleagues questioned the Biden administration’s “EGU Strategy,” a suite of EPA actions to target fossil fueled electric generating units that includes several new regulations being developed or proposed that “directly affect power plants that are essential for reliable electric operations,” according to their letter.

“We are concerned that EPA actions threaten to accelerate fossil generation retirements, at the very same time electric system operators report growing shortfalls in such baseload capacity will accelerate blackout risks,” wrote the lawmakers.

The members requested that Regan answer numerous questions, including what specific actions the EPA is taking or is prepared to take to address energy or electricity emergencies this summer in the bulk power system, and to list all waivers or other emergency actions being considered or taken over the past two years in connection with electricity reliability. They requested his responses by July 26.

“At a time of widespread economic and inflationary burdens, the last thing this nation needs are agency actions that press headlong into creating a major electricity crisis,” they wrote. “Therefore, it is important that Congress have information from EPA to assess how the agency’s actions are affecting electric grid reliability.”