US Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has called for state governors to “hold back” on the “costly process” of complying with EPA regulations being imposed by President Obama under the country’s Clean Air Act.
The remarks, written in a March 3 op-ed published on Kentucky.com, are the latest sign of the political headwinds Obama faces in getting his main climate change policy implemented.
Republican senator McConnell said the regulations would have a negligible effect on the world’s climate while having a “profoundly negative impact on countless American families” through the closure of potentially hundreds of coal-fired power stations.
“The regulation is unfair. It’s probably illegal. And state officials can do something about it; in fact, many are already fighting back,” he added.
Under the regulations, being pushed through by Obama through a presidential executive order, states must submit customised plans outlining how they will cut carbon emissions from existing and future power plants.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules are being used to help the country cuts its greenhouse gas emissions by between 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 – a target announced by Obama last year.
If any states fail or refuse to submit a plan, the EPA will have the power to impose a federal “model rule” on that state, a senior EPA official told the New York Times in January.
But McConnell, citing the findings of “a respected group of economists”, warned that the regulations could cost the US more than $300 billion and cause electricity prices in nearly every state to rise. He added that Kentucky’s economy alone could shrink by $2 billion annually.
As such, Republican lawmakers have vowed to fight back against the EPA plan, dubbing it a “war on coal” and calling on state legislators to follow their lead. Several states have already filed lawsuits against the EPA.
“The Obama administration is still threatening to impose its own – presumably more draconian – plan on any state that doesn’t do as it’s told. It sounds like a scary outcome, but states shouldn’t be frightened, nor should they allow themselves to be bullied,” McConnell wrote.
He added that the “purported flexibility” of the plan was “illusory”, and that according to some states the regulations’ mandates are “not technologically achievable, cannot be implemented under rushed timelines and threaten both state economies and energy reliability for families.”
“For starters, the legal basis for this regulation is flimsy at best. As iconic left-leaning law professor Laurence Tribe put it, the administration’s effort goes “far beyond its lawful authority.” And even in the unlikely event that the regulation does pass legal muster, it’s difficult to conceive how a plan imposed from Washington would be much different from what a state might develop on its own.”
McConnell told governments not to be complicit in the Obama administration’s “attack on the middle class”, and to “think twice” before submitting plans that could lock states into facing federal enforcement while potentially exposing them to lawsuits.
“Refusing to go along at this time with such an extreme proposed regulation would give the courts time to figure out if it is even legal, and it would give Congress more time to fight back,” he said.
“We’re devising strategies now to do just that, so for now hold back on the costly process of complying. A better outcome may yet be possible.”
The EPA is expected to release its proposed “model rule” for states along with final versions of its regulations this summer.
By Mike Szabo – firstname.lastname@example.org