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NAM: GOP lawmakers press EPA’s McCabe during house hearing

McClatchy (6/20, Moritz, Subscription Publication) reports GOP “lawmakers from states reliant on coal production and coal-powered energy challenged” Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe on June 19, “questioning the legality and effects of new standards to reduce carbon pollution through the nation’s power plants.” The House Energy and Commerce Committee heard testimony from McCabe “on the new Obama administration rule earlier this month, requiring states to reduce carbon emissions by a level determined by the EPA.” As Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) said, “Coal faces a devastating one-two punch from the EPA. … With this new proposed rule, the agency can begin shuttering existing coal facilities.” However, “McCabe rejected the idea that states would be forced to phase out coal energy, noting EPA estimates that coal is still expected to generate a third of the nation’s electricity by 2030.”

The Hill (6/20, Barron-Lopez) says McCabe mounted a defense of “the new carbon rule” and “stressed the agency was giving states flexibility in how they met the EPA’s new standards, which are expected to cut carbon dioxide from the nation’s existing power plants 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.”

Senate Democrats Cancel Spending Bill Vote Over Amendment Proposed By McConnell. The Hill (6/20, Cama) reports that Democrats in the Senate “canceled a scheduled Thursday Appropriations Committee markup that could have opened the door to an amendment to block” the EPA’s “latest climate rules.” According to a report by the Associated Press, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) “was planning to introduce an amendment to the funding bill for the Energy Department and water programs that would prohibit the Obama administration from finalizing the proposed carbon emissions limits for power plants.” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) made the decision “to cancel the scheduled vote Wednesday night.”

Roll Call (6/20, Lesniewski, Hallerman) reports that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Energy-Water Subcommittee, said, “The amendment was a bill-killer. If it didn’t lead to defeat on the Senate floor, it would have resulted in a White House veto, as the chairman has said.” Feinstein “said the White House confirmed a veto threat over the amendment on Wednesday.” The amendment “would have required certification of no job losses or electricity cost increases as a result of the implementation of the EPA’s proposed regulations on carbon emissions from existing power plants.”

House Republicans Urge EPA To Withdraw Power Plant Rules. The Hill (6/20, Barron-Lopez) reports that Republicans in the House are pressing EPA “to withdraw its new proposal mandating [that] existing power plants cut carbon dioxide emissions.” The letter to the EPA, signed by 84 House Republicans, “comes on the same day the House held its first hearing on the new carbon rules.” The letter states, “We believe that the authority to limit carbon emissions, even if that were actually a necessity, rests in neither the Constitution nor the Clean Air Act but in the true free market of individual choices made by the American people.”

Senate Republicans Want Administration Officials To Testify About Climate Rule. The Hill (6/20, Barron-Lopez) reports that Republican members of “the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee are calling for a hearing on President Obama’s signature climate rule, and they want administration officials to testify.” The eight “Republicans on the committee joined in pressuring Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to hold a hearing” on EPA’s rules. The Republicans on the committee wrote in a letter, “As our government sets in motion a litany of new actions with significant economic implications, we ask that you allow for Congressional oversight of federal policy decisions related to these attempts at controlling the climate. … If it’s such a great plan, bring it to Committee — let’s debate it, and vote on it.”

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