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EPA Chief Says Senate Vote to Scrap Power-Plant Rules Will Fail

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EPA'a Gina McCarthy on Clean Power Plan, Senate Vote
  • McCarthy tells Bloomberg Politics the courts will protect EPA
  • Senate voted yesterday on measure to block EPA carbon rules

One day after the Senate voted to block the Obama administration’s plan to throttle greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency predicted the rules would survive all challenges in Congress, the courts and on the presidential campaign trail.

The Clean Power Plan will prevail as have other agency regulations imposed under the Clean Air Act, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said Wednesday at the “Election 2016 and The Future of Energy” discussion with Bloomberg Politics in Washington.

“There is a history of us moving forward under the Clean Air Act, and there is a history of us winning time and time again,” McCarthy said. “We are not seeing our large initiatives go down because a Republican has gone into the presidency, or because Congress has decided to to take it up.”

The Clean Power Plan is the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s environmental agenda and a key part of the U.S. commitment to cut greenhouse-gas emissions before international climate negotiations beginning Nov. 30 in Paris. The two-part plan targets cutting 32 percent of heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. One rule imposes state-by-state emission limits; another targets new and modified power plants. 

McCarthy’s comments came one day after the Senate voted to pass two resolutions to nullify the plan. The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved two companion resolutions Wednesday.

Court Protection

The measures, which Obama has said he would veto, will not succeed, McCarthy said.

“There is a thoughtfulness once decisions are made and there is a record and there are courts to protect that, and it’s going to be the same with the Clean Power Plan,” McCarthy said in the discussion with Bloomberg Politics managing editors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.

Trade associations, coal companies, a coalition of 24 states and other entities have filed more than a dozen lawsuits in federal court challenging the Clean Power Plan. But states also are working to develop programs for complying with the rules -- even some of those fighting the mandates in court.

Republicans on the campaign trail also have panned the rules, saying they would lead to higher energy bills and kill coal industry jobs. 

“I don’t make my decisions -- at least my decisions at the EPA -- on the basis of who I think is going to win the election,” McCarthy said.

Better Sales

McCarthy said she is heeding the Senate action, which demonstrates the EPA needs to do a better job selling the plan on Capitol Hill.

“I have to look at the folks that voted against and we have to continue to do a better job explaining to them that what EPA is doing with this rule and everything else is protecting their kids’ future,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy argued that most of the controversy surrounding the plan is concentrated in the nation’s capital and doesn’t reflect the sentiment around the U.S. “On the ground and in the conversations we’re having with states, it is not controversial,” she said. “There are real, meaty conversations about how to do it.”

The Senate resolution is S.J. Res. 23; the companion measures in the House are H.J. Res. 71 71 and H.J. Res. 68.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Clean Power Plan
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