EPA chief: Critics crying wolf on climate rule

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Gina McCarthy accused critics Monday of scare tactics over the administration's new carbon rules for power plants.

"There’s a reason empty allegations from critics sound like a broken record. It’s the same tired play from the same special-interest playbook they’ve used for decades. In the '60s, when smog choked our cities, critics cried wolf and said EPA action would put the brakes on auto production," McCarthy said during the agency's announcement of President Obama's signature climate change regulation. [READ MCCARTHY'S SPEECH.]

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She added: "They were wrong. Instead, our air got cleaner, our kids got healthier — and we sold more cars."

The administration is gearing up for an all-out climate war to defend the administration's new rules on power plants, which call on the industry to cut carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030.

In an effort to get ahead of the storm of legislation and possible lawsuits, McCarthy came out swinging Monday, slamming climate skeptics for claiming that the rules will cost the U.S. billions of dollars in consumer costs and power plant upgrades.

"Time after time, when science pointed to health risks, special interests cried wolf to protect their own agenda," McCarthy said. "And time after time, we followed the science, protected the American people, and the doomsday predictions never came true."

The new standards are expected to generate more than $90 billion in climate and health benefits, compared to $7.3 billion to $8.8 billion in costs.

McCarthy also shot back at assertions that last year's devastating winter phenomenon, dubbed the "polar vortex," was a sign that climate change is not happening.

"I’m tired of people pointing to the polar vortex as a reason not to act on climate," McCarthy said. "It’s exactly the opposite. Climate change heightens risks from extreme cold that freezes power grids, superstorms that drown power plants and heat waves that stress power supplies. And it turns out, efficiency upgrades that slow climate change actually help cities insulate against blackouts."

After meeting with hundreds of groups for input on the proposal, the EPA is launching another round of engagement on the rules to ensure states are able to begin implementing plans to meet the reduction targets one year after its finalized. Certain states will be given until 2018 to craft a plan for their power plants.