Senate Dems to Obama: Reconsider coal rules

A group of seven Senate Democrats is pressuring President Obama to scale back the proposed carbon limits on new coal-fired power plants.

In a letter to Obama on Wednesday, the senators asserted that the technology the rule is based on is not commercially viable.

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"We are committed to improving air quality; however, the emissions standards in the proposed rule are not based on technology that has been adequately demonstrated on a commercial scale," the letter, spearheaded by Sen. Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampDem 2020 hopefuls lead pack in opposing Trump Cabinet picks The buzzword everyone can agree on in the health debate: RESTORE Greens launch ads against two GOP senators for Pruitt votes MORE (N.D.) and Joe DonnellyJoe DonnellyThe DNC in the age of Trump: 5 things the new chairman needs to do Poll: Senate should confirm Gorsuch A guide to the committees: Senate MORE (Ind.) states.

Sens. Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuFive unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory Pavlich: O’Keefe a true journalist Trump’s implosion could cost GOP in Louisiana Senate race MORE (La.), Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Mark WarnerMark WarnerTop Senate Dem: ‘Grave concerns’ about independence of Russia probe Dems worry too much about upsetting others. That needs to stop. Washington-area lawmakers request GAO report on DC Metro MORE (Va.), all vulnerable Democrats facing reelection in November, signed the letter.

"Understanding that affordable energy from coal will remain an important part of the world's economy, it is necessary for us to adopt the right policies and regulations that encourage long-term investment in further emissions reduction technologies and efficiencies," the letter adds.

Opponents of Obama's carbon emissions limits for new power plants have long argued that the carbon capture sequestration technology the Environmental Protection Agency proposes plants use is nowhere near ready.

Instead, such mandates would effectively shutter coal plants across the U.S., hurting the economy and energy jobs, pro-coal Democrats and Republicans claim.

The senators recommended that Obama evaluate "more appropriate ways to regulate emissions."

"We urge you to consider an approach that establishes a standard in the near-term that can be achieved by high efficiency coal-fired technologies operating without CCS and lower standards over the long-term as CCS becomes commercially available," the senators write.

Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.) also backed the letter, which comes as the administration is preparing to propose the second rule, which is a part of Obama's climate agenda for power plants and applies to existing coal facilities.