Senate Democrats have EPA for lunch

One day after President Obama unveiled his signature climate rule to limit carbon emissions from power plants, his inner circle made a trek to Capitol Hill.

White House adviser John Podesta and chief of staff Denis McDonough joined Senate Democrats for lunch Tuesday. They were spotted chatting with Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) before walking into the weekly meeting.

Podesta told reporters after the lunch that they talked about climate change and the new EPA rules. The meeting was to lay out the general framework of the new standards for lawmakers, he said.

"We talked about the process that led to development of the rule, and the substance of the rule," said Podesta.

On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed sweeping new climate standards, calling on power plants to reduce carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels.

The administration has launched a comprehensive engagement strategy to boost support for the proposed rules, which are already being criticized by Republicans.

Podesta said that he explained to the Democratic senators "why it's necessary to push public health benefits for the American people as well as tackle the very real problem of climate change."

He also talked about efforts to "fend off the misrepresentation" being spouted by opponents of the rule who claim it will hurt the economy.

Podesta said he talked to many senators one-on-one about the rule, and it's role in their states, when asked about the White House’s efforts to engage with lawmakers.

As for skeptics of the new rules, Podesta said he is willing to speak to all senators.

"We have very respectful conversations about this," he added.

This story was updated at 2:08 p.m.