Obama may personally announce new coal rules

President Obama may personally announce new carbon emissions limits on existing coal-fired power plants.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy on Monday said Obama has indicated he wants to put his personal touch behind the rules.

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"The president has indicated his intent to announce himself" the carbon emissions rules, she said during a Google climate chat with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

McCarthy called the move by Obama to announce the proposal "a strong indication of how important he sees this."

An EPA spokesperson subsequently said it's not positive the announcement will come from Obama since the president's schedule is not set in stone.

"Plans for the rollout have not been finalized," the spokesperson said.

When a rule is proposed it is typically published in the Federal Register to little fanfare. But Obama's personal announcement of the proposal will send a signal to Congress, and opponents of the rule, that he plans to see his climate agenda through to the end.

The announcement would be likely to come in early Jund, just months before midterm elections where Obama's climate policies will be front and center in a number of contests. 

Republicans in Congress argue the administration's climate regulations represent a "war on coal," and some Democrats are reluctant to align themselves with Obama. 

But the rules are also a play to the base, which Democrats need to come out in full force this fall. 

The EPA has been working on the proposal for existing power plants for the last year. It proposed carbon emissions rules for new power plants in January. The White House is sticking to a strict schedule to ensure both rules are finalized before Obama leaves office.

Opponents argue that the carbon limits will effectively shut down every coal plant in the country, and hurt the economy.

McCarthy argued that's not the case in her chat.

"I want to let everyone know that EPA has been working really hard to understand how we can make this rule both aggressive in terms of the amount of reductions it can achieve, as well as make it implementable and reasonable for every state to participate."

The EPA has said that the new rule will be flexible, allowing states to pick and choose the best way to limit its carbon output. 

This story was updated at 3:26 p.m.