Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has received immense criticism from White House officials after advising states to ignore the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rules on power plants.
According to The Hill, McConnell sent a letter out to every governor in the country reassuring them that they will be safe legally if they decline to formulate plans to implement the EPA’s carbon limits. McConnell claims that it is the EPA itself that is against the law.
“The fact is, it is the EPA that is failing to comply with the law here,” McConnell wrote to the National Governors Association, adding that the EPA is going “far beyond its legal authority.”
“In other words, the EPA is attempting to compel states to do more themselves than what the agency would be authorized to do on its own,” he wrote.
An Obama administration spokesman attacked McConnell and his actions in telling leaders to ignore the rules and regulations of the EPA in terms of carbon emissions.
“Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges that we face, and instead of offering solutions, Sen. McConnell’s alternative is an inappropriate and unfounded attempt to dictate state decisions,” said White House spokesman Frank Benenati.
“While Sen. McConnell and the other climate deniers in Congress will do everything they can to block or hinder the administration’s progress on climate change, the administration is committed to moving forward to tackle climate change head on because science, history, and the American people are on our side,” Benenati added.
“The majority leader is a master tactician,” said Scott Segal, a lobbyist with the law firm Bracewell & Giuliani and the director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, which represents power companies. “He understands the legal vulnerabilities, and he’s acutely aware that not all solutions go through traditional legislative channels.”
As explained by the New York Times, McConnell’s Kentucky is one of the largest coal producers in the nation and directly impacted by Obama’s pledge to move towards efficient energy sources like wind and solar power. Peabody Energy, the largest producer of coal in the nation, is coincidentally the fourth-largest contributor to McConnell’s political campaigns over his career, and the New York Times says that his office continues to maintain close communication with the company.
“The E.P.A. is bypassing Congress and the American people by unilaterally proposing these crippling regulations that would wreak havoc on our economy and are clearly unprecedented,” he said. “I have used and will continue to use all of the tools available to protect families and jobs, whether that be in Congress, or outside of the legislative process.”
McConnell has already labeled President Obama’s campaign a “war on coal,” and has stated that he will do everything in his power to battle against it.