Industry to EPA: Climate rule 'not workable'

Leading industry groups, including the Chamber of Commerce and the National Mining Association, are pressing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to heed warnings that its new climate regulation is "not workable."

The Partnership for a Better Energy Future, which represents 140 organizations, sent a letter to EPA chief Gina McCarthy Monday night calling on her to extend the public comment period for the new rules, make drastic changes to the proposal and hold more public hearings across the U.S.

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"We are all going to tell the EPA that this regulation is simply not workable," Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), said on a call with reporters Tuesday to promote the industry push against the rules.

The EPA has said it will hold four public hearings across the country on its proposal, which mandates that by 2030 states cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels.

That's not enough, according to Timmons and the CEOs of the Chamber of Commerce, American Petroleum Institute, National Mining Association, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers and more.

"There is obviously going to be legal action in the future," Timmons said. "We would like to see the rule altered and see the agency stop and listen to constituents and consumers that will be most impacted."

"But assuming all things stay as they are, then we'll see some action in the courts," he added.

The campaign from industry groups adds further pressure to already mounting opposition to the rules, which are a key pillar of President Obama's climate change legacy.

One main point of contention for the industry is that the EPA is allowing states to dive into other energy sources to reach its carbon emissions target, rather than focus solely on the fossil fuel plants in question.

"The EPA regulation is unprecedented in its scope and will force changes well beyond the fossil fuel plants it proposes to regulate," Chamber CEO Karen Harbert said on a call with reporters. "It forces changes into other industries and other sources."

Harbert said the 120-day comment period for stakeholders to submit recommendations to the agency before the rule is finalized is an "insufficient" amount of time for "something that is going to capture every element of our economy."

The flexibility to regulate "beyond the fence" of a power plant is the one element of the rule that some vulnerable Democrats, who otherwise opposed the regulations, have called a smart move by the EPA.

EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia said the agency "is pleased by the tremendous public interest in the proposed Clean Power Plan" and it plans to respond to the letter from the Partnership for a Better Energy Future.

"Already, we have received nearly 300,000 comments on the proposal. In the first 25 business days following the proposal, we have met with 60 groups and we are continuing our outreach through the 120-day comment period," Purchia said.

Although legal challenges appear inevitable, McCarthy has expressed confidence that the rules are legally sound.

White House adviser to the president on climate, John Podesta, has also said any court challenge would fail, and that the rule will be finalized.

Still, opponents of the rules are just getting started on a number of lengthy campaigns they hope will derail Obama's climate change regulations.

On Wednesday, McCarthy will face the Senate for its first hearing on the carbon rule, and is expected to get an earful from Republicans.

 

— Updated at 12:30 p.m.