EPA Announces New Rules on Carbon Emissions from Power Plants

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a Clean Power Plan rule on Monday that would require power plants to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 percent by 2030. Republicans in the House and Senate are voicing their disagreements with the policy as well as President Obama’s continued use of executive orders to bypass Congress.  Some Democrats in the House and Senate, especially those with tough elections on the horizon, are also distancing themselves from the White House following this announcement.

The new regulation would require power plants to cut carbon pollution by 30 percent of 2005 levels by the year 2030. The more than 600 coal power plants in the United States make up the vast majority of that output. The New York Times reported Monday that this proposal could result in hundreds of those plants closing.

Under the proposal, instead of simply closing coal plants, states would be given options to reduce their emissions levels , such as “cap and trade” programs, creating new wind and solar plants, or creating energy-efficient technologies. The EPA estimates the rule will cost between $7.3 billion and 8.8 billion a year but would generate between $55 billion and $93 billion by 2030. The U.S. Chamber of Congress, in a report released last week, estimated the rule would reduce the GDP by $51 billion a year, cost 224,000 jobs, and increasing American eclectic bills by $289 billion between 2015 and 2030, the Washington Times reported Monday. The EPA is disputing their calculations.

According to Roll Call, Speaker of the House John Boehner finds this proposed rule worse than the cap-and-trade plan Congress rejected in 2010. He referred to the plan as “nuts” in a release on Monday, saying, “Americans are still asking ‘where are the jobs?’ And here he is proposing rules to ship jobs overseas for years to come.” Speaker Boehner, along with House Republicans, will try and block the new EPA rules, but will need supporters in the Democrat-controlled Senate to be successful. John Podesta, one of President Obama’s chief advisors, said last month that congressional attempts to block these changes would not be successful. According to Politico, he said the attempts would have “zero percent chance of working.”

Some Democrats in both Chambers, as well as those hoping to win elections in November, are using this proposal to put distance between themselves and the White House. Representative Nick Rahall of West Virginia announced on Monday that he would introduce legislation to block the carbon emission caps. According to The Hill, Rahall issued a statement saying, “The new regulation threatens our economy and does so with an apparent disregard for the livelihoods of our coal miners and thousands of families throughout West Virginia.” Natalie Tennant, Democratic nominee for Senate in West Virginia, said she would “stand up to President Obama, Gina McCarthy, and anyone else who tries to undermine our coal jobs.”

In the Kentucky Senate race, Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes also is attempting to use this proposal to put distance between herself and the President.  She said in a statement Monday, “When I’m in the U.S. Senate, I will fiercely oppose the President’s attack on Kentucky’s coal industry.” Her opponent, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is already taking steps to attempt and block it. In a statement released Monday he “will offer legislation this week to tstop this assault on Kentucky and the broader U.S. economy.” He also challenged the President’s use of executive power to change policy, saying this plan “highlights his contempt for the wishes of the public and a system of government that was devised precisely to restrain an action like today’s.

New York Times: Unveiling New Carbon Plan, EPA Focuses on Flexibility

Washington Times: New EPA Rules Could Burn Coal State Democrats

Politico: John Podesta: Congress Won’t Stop EPA’s Climate Rules

The Hill: Democrats’ New Coal Headache

Senator Mitch McConnell: EPA Overreach a “Dagger in the Heart of the American Middle Class”

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