Thousands of Co-op Members Voice Opposition to EPA’s Power Plant Rule

Tens of thousands of electric co-op members have sent comments to the EPA opposing the agency’s proposed power plant rule. (Photo By: Denny Gainer/NRECA)

Nearly 47,000 comments have been submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency by electric cooperative consumer-members as part of a grassroots campaign organized by Voices for Cooperative Power opposing the agency’s proposed power plant rule.

The strong response to the ongoing campaign by NRECA’s grassroots platform reflects the importance of the issue to co-ops and their members, said Patrick Ahearn, NRECA’s political affairs director.

“This is an issue that every co-op and consumer-member has a stake in, because it affects the reliability and affordability of their electricity,” he said.

The EPA’s proposed rule aims to essentially eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 2035. NRECA leaders say it puts electric reliability at risk and will raise costs for consumers by setting unrealistic, unachievable goals that rely on still-developing technologies like carbon capture and storage and hydrogen as a fuel.

Co-op consumer-members, co-op employees and other advocates can click on a link or scan a QR code to learn more about EPA’s proposed rule and send a letter to the agency or share their opposition on Facebook.

The letter, addressed to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, concludes by saying, “I join with electric co-ops across the country in standing firmly against EPA’s proposal. It would undermine decades of work to reliably keep the lights on across the nation and could lead to life-threatening blackouts. These new regulations don’t work for my family, my community, or our nation’s economy.”

Ivy Prater, NRECA’s program manager for grassroots technology, said “it’s important that our side is being heard.”

“There’s always somebody on the other side who is out there advocating, so we want to make sure our co-op voices come through loud and clear,” she said.

A grassroots advocacy campaign is decidedly different when it’s focused on an agency rather than on elected officials who care what their local constituents and voters think, Ahearn said.

“But one of the things that the EPA looks at is the volume of comments they’re getting,” he said. “When you get into the tens of thousands of comments, it gets their attention.”

Erin Kelly is a staff writer for NRECA.