WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-11, voted Thursday to for a bill which creates a "reasonable alternative" for new power plants facing stricter greenhouse gas standards, according to a press lease from his office.

H.R. 3826, the Electricity Security and Affordability Act, which Barletta cosponsored, passed the U.S. House of Representatives 229 to 183. The bill offers a "reasonable alternative to excessive new greenhouse gas standards for new power plants proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)," according to Barletta. There is companion legislation in the Senate sponsored by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV.

Barletta said the EPA is setting standards impossible for the coal industry to reach.

"Coal has been a vital part of the economy and energy production in our part of Pennsylvania for more than two centuries, and I will always stand for protecting jobs and lower energy rates for our citizens," Barletta said.

H.R. 3826 helps avoid a potential shutdown of the coal industry that employs thousands, Barletta said.

"This legislation offers a more reasonable, more likely solution to reducing greenhouse gas," he continued.

In September 2013, the EPA proposed sweeping regulations that would require new coal-fired electrical plants to install carbon capture and storage technologies that are not yet commercially available. Should the regulations take effect, they would essentially ban the construction of even the most state-of-the-art coal-fired plants nationwide. Proposed EPA regulations for existing coal-fired plants are expected in June of this year.

H.R. 3826 requires any greenhouse gas standards set by the EPA actually be achievable by coal-fired plants that use available technologies, including those newly built with the newest, most efficient emissions control technologies. Reaching newly proposed EPA standards would have to have been achieved by six different generating units for one year.

Coal was used in the generation of about 37 percent of the electricity consumed by Americans in 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Pennsylvania produced the fourth-highest amount of coal in 2010 in the United States, and more than 50,000 people were employed as a direct or indirect result of the industry in 2008, according to the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance.

Barletta said he supports protecting the environment, but not at the expense of current jobs.

"I have children and grandchildren and I certainly care about the quality of the environment we leave them and future generations," Barletta said. "I just don't believe we have to decimate an entire segment of our economy to do that."