Energy industry, lawmakers wary of EPA regulation push

FILE: Feb. 28, 2012: Midwest Generation's Crawford Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant, in Chicago.

FILE: Feb. 28, 2012: Midwest Generation's Crawford Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant, in Chicago.  (AP)

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told energy executives this week in Houston that energy regulations could be a win-win. "We don't have to choose between a healthy environment and a healthy economy," she claimed. 

But many in the energy industry, and lawmakers representing energy-producing states, aren't so sure. 

The White House budget for fiscal 2015 would allocate almost $1 billion for a "Climate Resilience Fund," meant to counter the effects of climate change -- by adding funding and personnel for the EPA, and pushing new regulations. 

But lawmakers are growing increasingly cautious of the EPA's intentions. 

The House just passed a bill, sponsored by House Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., that would prohibit the EPA from setting first-ever national limits on carbon emissions from future power plants. Critics argued that the rule relies on technology that doesn't exist, while some Democrats accused them of election-year posturing. 

Whitfield warned that nobody is considering building a coal plant because there has yet to be proof that technology exists to meet the EPA's changing standards. 

"President Obama and others have taken an extreme position on coal," Whitfield told Fox News. "The president says that America will be the leader in CO2 reduction. We're already the leader." 

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, the author of the measure in the Senate, issued a similar warning. 

"Before you set the standards, new source performance standards, make sure we have technology that we can meet the standards you're asking to meet by using coal, gas, everything else we have in this great country that makes us energy independent," Manchin told Fox News. 

The bill would also wrestle back from the EPA its greenhouse gas regulations on existing power plants unless they are authorized by Congress. Manchin notes the United States also cannot tackle emissions on its own. "The U.S. uses 1/8 of the coal burned in the world -- we're not going to clean it up ourselves if we quit using every drop," he said. 

Obama highlighted the EPA rules on power plants during his State of the Union address. 

"That's why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities, and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air," Obama said. 

Manchin and others argue that the coal industry is already cleaning up its act. "Guess what Mr. President, we've used more coal in the last two decades and we've used it cleaner than before," Manchin said.

Mike Emanuel currently serves as chief congressional correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He joined FNC in 1997 as a Los Angeles-based correspondent.