Opinion

Vulnerable Democrats denounce new EPA coal proposal

By |
Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Climate Change,2014 Elections,EPA,Ashe Schow,Alison Lundergan Grimes,Mark Pryor,Mary Landrieu,Mark Begich,Mark Warner,Nick Joe Rahall

Democrats running in energy-producing states are denouncing the Environmental Protection Agency's new proposed rule regulating carbon emissions at existing coal plants.

The regulation aims to cut carbon emissions from existing coal plants as much as 30 percent by 2030 compared to the near-peak levels of 2005 -- and Democrats whose states stand to lose are running from it.

Allison Lundergan Grimes, running for U.S. Senate in Kentucky

Grimes, the Democratic opponent of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called out the Obama administration for not considering the people of Kentucky.

“President Obama’s new EPA rule is more proof that Washington isn’t working for Kentucky,” Grimes said in a statement. “Coal keeps the lights on in the commonwealth, providing a way for thousands of Kentuckians to put food on their tables.

“When I'm in the U.S. Senate, I will fiercely oppose the president's attack on Kentucky's coal industry because protecting our jobs will be my number one priority.”

Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.

Rahall didn't wait for the EPA to release the new rule before he began campaigning against it.

On Friday, Rahall took to the House floor to say the new rule would hurt his constituents.

“Even though we don’t have the details of the rule yet, from everything we know, we can be sure of this: It will be very bad for jobs,” Rahall said. “The only real question is where on a scale from devastating to a death blow the new rule will fall.”

Natalie Tennant, running for U.S. Senate in West Virginia

Tennant, West Virginia’s secretary of state, is seeking the seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller. She vowed to fight the Obama administration over the latest rule.

“I will stand up to President Obama, [EPA Administrator] Gina McCarthy, and anyone else who tries to undermine our coal jobs,” Tennant said. “Washington bureaucrats need to understand, these are not numbers on a balance sheet, they are real people with families to feed.

“I refuse to accept that we have to choose between clean air and good-paying jobs when I know West Virginia can lead the way in producing technology that does both.”

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska

Begich told CBS that he had “long been skeptical of this administration and their understanding of Alaska's unique needs when it comes to energy policy and this will be no different.”

But Begich also noted that rural Alaska may be largely exempt from the new regulation and emphasized the amount of flexibility that states were promised. He said he would work with the EPA and the Alaskan government “to ensure that any final rule is flexible and protects Alaska businesses and families.”

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.

Pryor said in a statement that he had “serious concerns” regarding the EPA’s rule and would look into how it would affect his state.

“I have serious concerns that the EPA’s proposal will undermine the affordable and reliable electricity Arkansans currently enjoy,” Pryor said. “I will continue to speak with Arkansas stakeholders to gauge how this rule could impact our state’s economy and jobs.”

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.

Warner tried to appease both environmentalists and coal workers, noting Virginia's coalfields while praising the EPA for extending the comment period for the rule, but also said he wanted to make sure it maintained a reliable energy grid.

“This is a first step in a very long process, and it is important that Virginians have a full and fair opportunity to express their views on the proposed rule,” Warner said in a statement. “I will work to ensure that any final rule provides Virginia with adequate flexibility, enhances innovation and R&D in clean coal, and ensures that we maintain a safe and reliable energy network to power a competitive economy.”

Warner, along with vulnerable Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina and others, had sent a letter to McCarthy on May 22 urging her to double the comment period for the rule from 60 to 120 days.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.

Landrieu took a more tepid stance on the rule, calling on the administration to allow Congress to come up with a plan to reduce carbon emissions and not accomplish that goal through stringent EPA regulations.

“While it is important to reduce carbon in the atmosphere, this should not be achieved by EPA regulations. Congress should set the terms, goals and timeframe,” Landrieu said in a statement e-mailed to the press. “Greater use of natural gas and stronger efficiency measures adopted by the industry have already helped us reduce carbon emissions to their lowest levels in 20 years, and this should continue.”

Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C.

Sen. Kay Hagan also assured voters that she would work with environmentalists and utility companies to make sure the rule won't hurt constituents.

"North Carolina must not be asked to carry a higher burden simply because we had the foresight and courage to take action," Hagan said, referring to a 2002 law aimed at reducing emissions in the state. "In the coming weeks I will push for a number of changes to the rule that are good for North Carolina.”

Updated at 6:15 p.m. to include Sen. Kay Hagan's statement.

View article comments Leave a comment

More from washingtonexaminer.com