Sen. Landrieu: Our goal isn't clean energy, it's energy security

Greg Nash

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) took to a coal plant in her home state of Louisiana to slam the administration's new proposal limiting carbon emissions from power plants.

"The goal for me is not clean. It's an important part of the equation, but it is not the goal," Landrieu told press after touring the coal-fired power plant Monday afternoon.

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"The goal is [energy] independence. The goal is security. The goal is reliability. And then also, as clean as possible," she added.

Last week Landrieu told reporters that the one piece of the new rules she thinks is "wise" is the degree of flexibility the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is affording states when designing their own implementation plan.

EPA said the rules would decrease the amount of electric generation produced by coal form 37 percent to roughly 30 percent by 2030.

The pressure to shift from coal to natural gas, or other renewable sources, has many coal-dependent states worried.

Landrieu toured the plant Monday to showcase the role of coal in the U.S.

"It’s really important for us in America to begin thinking about America being energy independent and energy secure," Landrieu said. "No more imported oil from countries we don’t agree with or share their values. No more relying on outsiders to provide some essential components of our economic structure. That’s one of the reasons why I’m not going to be able to support the EPA regulation that just came out."

This isn't the first time Landrieu has spoken out against President Obama's climate change policies. She is a staunch advocate of fossil fuels, and has come out in favor of natural gas, crude oil exports, and Keystone XL.

Landrieu, who in a tough reelection fight this year, scolded the EPA during the tour.

"I think members of Congress should set energy policy, not unelected bureaucrats, whether they're from a Democratic administration or a Republican administration," Landrieu said.

While Landrieu has been vocal in opposing the new rules, which require the nation's fleet of power plants to cut carbon dioxide 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels, the committee she chairs does not have jurisdiction over the regulations.

It's a limitation the GOP is seeking to turn into a political liability for Landrieu, who has touted her Senate Energy chairmanship as crucial tool for Louisiana.