McConnell chides EPA chief for HBO appearance

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday criticized Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Gina McCarthy for appearing on an HBO comedy talk show while refusing meet with his constituents to hear how regulations will affect them.

“Imagine my surprise this weekend when I learned that she found the time Friday night to appear on an HBO late-night comedy show, where she admitted that the Obama administration is in fact waging a war on coal,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday.

“Why does she have time to sit down with a TV comedian, but not with the editors of the Appalachian News Express in Pikeville, so she can look my constituents in the eye and explain how these rules will impact them?”

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McCarthy appeared on "Real Time with Bill Maher" last week.

McConnell has called the EPA’s announcement to regulate power plant carbon emissions a “war on coal” that will harm his state’s economy. The EPA chief is hosting four hearings to get the public’s perspective on the regulation, but McConnell said none are in “coal country.”

“The administration announced it would hold four public hearings on the new proposed regulations. And, given the dramatic effects they’re sure to have on my home state, you’d think they’d hold at least one of those hearings in Eastern Kentucky, or somewhere in Kentucky at the very least,” McConnell said. “But then, you’d be mistaken.”

EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia took exception with McConnell’s characterization of the agency’s outreach in crafting the rule. EPA held more than 400 meetings before the rule was unveiled June 2, an “unprecedented” outreach effort, she said.

The regulation aims to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent over 15 years. Scientists have said carbon pollution contributes to climate change. McConnell has introduced legislation to stop the regulation.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said the “Republican Party is in denial” about climate change.

— Timothy Cama contributed to this article.