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POLITICS: PennAve

GOP Senate campaign arm targets four Democrats on proposed EPA rule

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Senate,Climate Change,2014 Elections,EPA,PennAve,Energy and Environment,Zack Colman,Mary Landrieu,NRSC,Mark Begich,Mark Warner,Power Plants,Mark Udall

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is looking to make proposed carbon emission limits for power plants a political headache for some Senate Democrats.

The NRSC is sending out robocalls hitting Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Udall of Colorado, and Mark Warner of Virginia over the proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule. The calls will attempt to tie those Democrats to President Obama and his climate policies, which Republicans say would raise energy prices, as the GOP attempts to make the proposed rule a key issue in battleground states.

"These extreme regulations prove that instead of fighting to defend middle-class Americans, Democrats like Landrieu, Begich, Udall and Warner will once again fall in line and remain loyal to the liberal Obama agenda. Their uphill climb just got even steeper," the NRSC said Tuesday.

That's not to say all those Democrats supported the Environmental Protection Agency proposal, which aims to cut power-sector emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and amounts to the largest effort to tackle climate change in the agency's history.

Landrieu slammed the rule, saying Congress should decide emissions regulations. Begich expressed concern, though he didn't reject or endorse it. Warner stopped short of giving it a thumbs up or down, but approved of the EPA extending the comment period to 120 days, up from 60, at the request of nearly four dozen senators.

Absent from the NRSC attack list are a few other key Senate race targets who have supported Obama's climate efforts, including Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.

The EPA said the proposed rule would yield benefits of up to $93 billion when fully implemented, at a cost of $8.8 billion. That would come through averting extreme weather-related damage that is linked to climate change, reducing health costs from indirectly cutting coal-fired emissions that contribute to soot and smog, and by adding renewable energy jobs.

Of the four Democrats the NRSC is targeting, only Udall cheered the proposed rule. He called it a "good start" and said it would reduce the effect of climate change in his state.

Brad Dayspring, an NRSC spokesman, said the committee didn't target Michigan or New Hampshire with the latest effort because of "fiscal realities."

"Would love to run unlimited ads and launch ... new paid efforts every single day against all targets, but with each new effort choices have to be made," he said in an email.

Heather Taylor-Miesle, who runs the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund, said the NRSC is avoiding Michigan and New Hampshire because bashing climate policies isn't effective in those states.

"We both know why they aren’t robocalling in [those states] – they have no chance with a climate denier message. According to our numbers, it won’t work in [Colorado] either," she said in an email.

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