The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill to block upcoming greenhouse gas regulations on power plants. The legislation is in response to proposed EPA rules designed to cut back on emissions that contribute to climate change.

The measure that passed the House is sponsored by Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield. It wouldn’t stop EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, but requires that any limits be based on technology that’s already been in use for a year. Under the current proposal, coal plants would need to use some sort of carbon capture and sequestration, and GOP members say that doesn’t make the cut.

Whitfield spoke in support of his bill on the House floor.

“You can regulate greenhouse gases,” he said. “But when you set the emission standard, the unit must be in operation for a period of time, must be commercially available to the utilities to buy it, as opposed to the proposed regulation in which the technology is simply not available.”

Louisville Congressman John Yarmuth was the lone member of Kentucky’s delegation to vote against the bill. He says that without the regulations, technology will never develop to trap carbon dioxide emissions.

“The problem with their argument is when they say the technology doesn’t exist, therefore we shouldn’t regulate, then there will be no incentive for the power plants or anybody to develop that technology,” he said.

Carbon capture has worked in pilot projects, and a power plant in Mississippi is currently building the technology on a large scale. But it’s still prohibitively expensive. Some engineers have said without regulations or a price on carbon emissions—like what’s been proposed in cap and trade legislation—there won’t be incentives for research and development.  

The bill now heads to the Senate. President Obama has threatened a veto.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's News Director.