Senator McConnell Questions EPA Administrator on War On Coal

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At Congressional hearing, McConnell suggests Congress can use Section 102(c) of Clean Air Act to block job-killing EPA regulation

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pressed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy today during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing regarding the EPA’s anti-coal regulation that would devastate Kentucky coal jobs and harm our economy.  Earlier this year, Senator McConnell joined the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies for the 114th Congress – the panel which oversees the budget for the EPA.

 Senator McConnell said to EPA Administrator McCarthy during the hearing, “Administrator McCarthy, as you know, things are not well in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. We have a depression in eastern Kentucky. Your agency’s proposed budget request, if approved, would facilitate the EPA’s plan to shutter coal plants in my state and put countless more of my constituents out of work—all at the service of a regulatory agenda. The actual benefits of which neither you or anyone else can seem to explain. My constituents want their dignity restored. They want to be able to work and they want to be able to provide for their families. You cannot guarantee your carbon regulations won’t cost my constituents jobs. You cannot guarantee your carbon regulations won’t raise their utility bills. You refused my multiple invitations to come to our state and discuss these regulations with my constituents… Now I know that the Obama administration points to Kentucky as a state where your plans are actually underway. But according to our governor’s office, my state will not be able to submit a state plan that meets your demands before the current governor leaves office, which is December of this year. So you might be interested to know that all our major candidates for governor this year, one whom will take office in December of this year, said they’re not going to submit a plan. The current governor, who’s working with you will be gone. He says he can’t finish it by December and none, the Democrat and multiple Republican candidates, none of them are going to submit a plan. So my question is, how in the world do you intend to force my state to comply with a federal plan?”

 Senator McConnell also said that Congress could block the plan by using Section 102(c) of the Clean Air Act, which requires Congressional consent for cooperative agreements.

 “You and your colleagues like to imply that Congress won’t have a role in this process but when you proposed this plan last year, you cited multi-state programs as a basis to ensure ‘more flexibility and lower costs.’ Recently, one of your deputies told FERC that multi-state plans are a significant part of your strategy. I’d like to acquaint you with Section 102(c) of the Clean Air Act, which requires Congressional consent for cooperative agreements,” Senator McConnell said to EPA Administrator McCarthy. “The law reads: ‘No such agreement or compact shall be binding or obligatory upon any State  . . . unless and until it has been approved by Congress.’ Doesn’t seem ambivalent to me. I can assure you that as long as I am Majority Leader of the Senate, this body will not sign off on any backdoor national energy tax.”

 Click the image below to view the remarks by Senator McConnell and Administrator McCarthy.

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The following are Senator McConnell’s remarks:

 SENATOR McCONNELL: Administrator McCarthy, as you know, things are not well in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. We have a depression in eastern Kentucky. Your agency’s proposed budget request, if approved, would facilitate the EPA’s plan to shutter coal plants in my state and put countless more of my constituents out of work—all at the service of a regulatory agenda. The actual benefits of which neither you or anyone else can seem to explain.

 My constituents want their dignity restored. They want to be able to work and they want to be able to provide for their families.

 You cannot guarantee your carbon regulations won’t cost my constituents jobs.

You cannot guarantee your carbon regulations won’t raise their utility bills.

 You refused my multiple invitations to come to our state and discuss these regulations with my constituents…

 And one of your deputies, listen to this, added insult to injury when she said EPA only held hearings on the carbon regulations in areas where your colleagues “were comfortable coming to”.  I assume that’s places unlike Pikeville, Kentucky.

 Now I know that the Obama administration points to Kentucky as a state where your plans are actually underway. But according to our governor’s office, my state will not be able to submit a state plan that meets your demands before the current governor leaves office, which is December of this year.

 So you might be interested to know that all our major candidates for governor this year, one whom will take office in December of this year, said they’re not going to submit a plan. The current governor, who’s working with you will be gone. He says he can’t finish it by December and none, the Democrat and multiple Republican candidates, none of them are going to submit a plan.

 So my question is, how in the world do you intend to force my state to comply with a federal plan? What are you going to require Kentucky to do? Run coal plants less of the time? Build gas plants? Erect windmills? Put up solar panels? Build pipelines? Does EPA really know how to do all these things? Do you think you can really require these things under the Clean Air Act?

Administrator McCarthy responds.

 SENATOR McCONNELL: So you have a current governor who can’t finish before he leaves office in December and a next governor whose not going to file the plans. So I assume you’ll have to wrestle with that. So let me move onto another issue.

 You and your colleagues like to imply that Congress won’t have a role in this process but when you proposed this plan last year, you cited multi-state programs as a basis to ensure “more flexibility and lower costs.” 

 Recently, one of your deputies told FERC that multi-state plans are a significant part of your strategy.

 I’d like to acquaint you with Section 102(c) of the Clean Air Act requires Congressional consent for cooperative agreements.

 The law reads: “No such agreement or compact shall be binding or obligatory upon any State  . . . unless and until it has been approved by Congress.” Doesn’t seem ambivalent to me.

I can assure you that as long as I am Majority Leader of the Senate, this body will not sign off on any backdoor national energy tax.

 One final point: You have assured international officials that the U.S. is serious about imposing climate change regulations. I’d say what we have learned from your recent time on Capitol Hill is this is not the case. I would remind you that the Executive Branch is only one-third of the U.S. government. The Congress of course didn’t pass Cap and Trade back in 2009 and 2010 when the Democrats had very large majorities here. So, the failure of Congress to sign off should signal to other countries that they should proceed with caution into the December 2015 climate talks in Paris.

Administrator McCarthy responds.

SENATOR McCONNELL: That’s going to be the test. You’re going to have to prove it in court as you know. In the meantime, we got a grim, grim situation in Kentucky.