Aug 04 2014 EPA regulations costing money and jobs, Alabama Senators say: They are the 'face of executive overreach'

Alabama's Senators are stepping up the fight against Environmental Protection Agency regulations governing emissions they describe as "intrusive and unnecessary."

Republican Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions have written a letter to President Barack Obama and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy criticizing the proposed regulations that require coal-fired power plants to deeply cut emissions. In Alabama, the reduction would be up to 27 percent and on Friday, Alabama Power announced it would reduce the amount of coal it burns to comply with the regulations.

The changes, which the company said it would phase in the changes by 2016, will affect seven coal units at three power plants and lead to the elimination of 60 positions in Greene County. Company officials said the change could lead to higher electricity bills for Alabama customers.

'Face of executive overreach'

Shelby and Sessions described the closure news and reports of job cuts as "deeply troubling."

"No worker should lose his or her job because of intrusive and unnecessary regulations from Washington. These regulations are the face of executive overreach, and we pledge to continue to fight against them," the Senators said in a joint statement.

"It is absolutely unacceptable that families and communities will suffer as a result of the EPA's actions."

In their letter, Shelby, Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Sessions, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said the EPA is stepping outside its authority in enforcing the regulations.

"It cannot be seriously argued that the action proposed by the EPA has been expressly authorized by Congress. Indeed, if brought to Congress for a vote now, the EPA's proposal would certainly not be approved," they wrote.

Two of the units that will be converted from goal to gas are located in Greene County, located in Alabama's Black Belt.

"These job losses have serious consequences in a region which has faced declining populations, high unemployment rates, as well as a host of infrastructure challenges," the wrote. "The EPA's proposal, if finalized, would impose enormous costs and burdens on Alabama workers and their families, and would hinder our global economic competitiveness."

The regulations will erode the state's ability to determine the energy mix – nuclear, coal, natural gas, hydropower and renewable energies – it chooses to use.

"Those decisions should not be dictated by EPA officials in Washington, D.C." lawmakers wrote.