EPA’s Unlawful, Unachievable Rules Jeopardize Reliable Electricity

ARLINGTON, Va. – National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Jim Matheson today issued the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency finalized four new rules to regulate power plants.

“The path outlined by the EPA today is unlawful, unrealistic and unachievable,” NRECA CEO Jim Matheson said. “It undermines electric reliability and poses grave consequences for an already stressed electric grid. The American economy can’t succeed without reliable electricity. Smart energy policy recognizes that fundamental truth and works to help keep the lights on. This barrage of new EPA rules ignores our nation’s ongoing electric reliability challenges and is the wrong approach at a critical time for our nation’s energy future.”

NRECA’s assessment of EPA’s power plant rule, the most impactful of the four finalized by EPA today, remains unchanged from the agency’s original proposal:

  • The rule is unlawful. It violates the law, exceeds EPA’s authority, and disregards Supreme Court rulings.
  • The technology isn’t ready. The rule mandates the widespread adoption of technology that is promising, but not ready for prime time.
  • The timelines are unrealistic. The rule gives neither existing coal units nor new gas units enough time to reach compliance.

EPA finalized its rule against a backdrop of daunting threats to reliability, as electricity demand surges at the same time supply is decreasing.

The Energy Information Administration projects that power demand will reach record highs in 2024 and 2025, increasing by 2.5% and 3.2% respectively. Grid planners forecast electricity demand to grow by 38 gigawatts through 2028, the equivalent of adding another California to the grid.

Meanwhile, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation has warned that more than 110 gigawatts of always-available generation, enough to power about 35 million homes, will retire through 2033. And all or parts of 19 states are at high risk of rolling blackouts during normal peak conditions over the next five years.

Below is a 30-second audio clip of Matheson’s comments on the power plant rule: “What’s most concerning is that it puts electric reliability at risk.”

Download these comments in MP3 format.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national trade association representing nearly 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape. As local businesses built by the consumers they serve, electric cooperatives have meaningful ties to rural America and invest $15 billion annually in their communities.