Thursday, March 05, 2015

McConnell tells states to ignore provision for drafting their own plans under climate-change rule

McConnell at a coal pile during his re-election campaign
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, following a central promise of his 2014 re-election campaign in Kentucky, is asking states to "ignore a central part of President Barack Obama's plans to curb the pollution blamed for global warming," Dina Cappiello reports for The Associated Press from Washington.

In an op-ed in Tuesday's Lexington Herald-Leader, McConnell "says states should reject Obama's proposed requirements for power plants to reduce carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas," Cappiello writes. "The rule, expected to be final this summer, would require states to submit plans as soon as 2016, or risk being forced to comply with a federal substitute."

"The regulation is unfair. It's probably illegal," McConnell writes. His office cites a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Harvard Law School constitutional-law professor Laurence Tribe, whom top coal producer Peabody Energy hired to analyze the rule.

McConnell argues that states' ability to design their own approaches is "illusory. States report that the regulation's mandates are not technologically achievable, cannot be implemented under rushed timelines and threaten both state economies and energy reliability for families."

McConnell says the rule "would have a negligible effect in global climate," but the administration says the U.S. must lead the way in reducing coal use.

The Climate Action Council issued a reply from former assistant energy secretary Susan Tierney, who wrote in part: “Sen. McConnell’s harsh statements on the Clean Power Plan are not grounded in a factual understanding of the EPA’s proposed plan and fail to recognize the serious threats facing our public health and environment from carbon pollution. Contrary to Sen. McConnell’s claims, the Clean Power Plan allows states genuine flexibility in their efforts to reduce carbon pollution."

UPDATE, March 9: The New York Times editorial board calls McConnell's move "reckless," "shocking" and "a travesty," and says his attitude is "woefully parochial."

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