Murkowski to Prepare ‘Safety Valve’ Bill to Protect Electric Reliability

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today reiterated her concerns regarding the imminent release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Utility MACT rule and its potential to cause power disruptions.

The Utility MACT rule is due out this week and the EPA have yet to adequately address the concerns about reliability raised by Murkowski and many others.

“After many communications with the EPA and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in which I asked them to fully address reliability concerns before allowing new rules to move forward, I am no less concerned today, on the eve of the release of the Utility MACT rule, than I was before,” Murkowski said.  

FERC recently held a technical conference on electric reliability at which nearly every private sector and state government witness testified on the need for more time to comply with Utility MACT and other EPA rules to avoid what could be significant impacts to the reliability of the electric grid.

“It is unfortunate that the administration has decided to politicize the concerns about reliability that lawmakers and stakeholders have raised. I continue to be astonished that the EPA would claim to be giving careful consideration to reliability issues while flatly refusing, before rushing out sweeping new restrictions on power generators, to address the potentially significant reliability impact on the grid that independent expert institutions have identified ” Murkowski said. “We all want cleaner air, but regulators must go about it in a way that does not disrupt the grid or result in higher utility bills for Americans.”

Murkowski dismissed claims by the EPA that the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the independent “Electric Reliability Organization” certified by FERC, had “greatly overstated” the level of retirements likely to occur or the implication that reliability concerns were being overblown. 

“If the EPA had done its work before charging ahead, we wouldn’t be facing the significant impacts that now seem much more likely and there would be no need to delay these rules,” Murkowski said. “Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.” 

Murkowski said she would continue to call on the EPA to adequately address reliability concerns in the face of criticism from the administration.  

“Expecting the EPA and FERC to do their respective jobs before the administration imposes new restrictions that would diminish the reliability of our nation’s power supply is not too much to ask,” Murkowski said. 

Murkowski said the unresponsiveness of the EPA and the political messaging effort waged by the administration both highlight the importance of putting in place an effective “safety valve” that protects electric reliability in the face of EPA’s regulatory initiatives and is also transparent and fair.

“Given the reckless pace at which the EPA is advancing new rules, it is clear Congress must step in.  I’ve instructed my staff to draft legislation that would put in place a safety valve worthy of the name so that the nation can continue to have reliable and affordable power. It helps no one to pay more for less reliable power, especially in today’s tough economic times,” Murkowski said.