EPA gears up for public hearings on climate rule

The Environmental Protection Agency will hold four public hearings next week to hear from people across the country on its carbon pollution standards.

The agency said in an advisory on Wednesday that the outreach leading up to its proposal has been "unprecedented" and that so far the agency has received roughly 300,000 comments on the new rules, which call for on the nation's fleet of existing power plants to cut carbon dioxide pollution 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels.

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The agency expects to hear oral comments from about 1,600 people, across the four hearing locations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh.

EPA said all comments will be treated equally regardless of the form they are submitted in. If stakeholders are unable to attend one of the four public hearings, they can send in their comments via email, fax, or letter.

For those attending the public hearings, the EPA put up a recent alert stating certain forms of identification.

People with IDs issued in certain states will have to present an additional form of identification to enter the federal building where the hearings are being held, the EPA said.

Other IDS that are deemed valid include passports, military IDS, or other documents.

The requirement drew criticism from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). McConnell has pressed the EPA to hold a hearing in his home state of Kentucky where he says the coal industry will be hurt by the new standards.

"This identification requirement at the locations you chose makes (my constituents') attendance now virtually impossible," McConnell wrote in a letter to EPA chief Gina McCarthy earlier this month.

The EPA said that it will work with everyoone who comes to a hearing and wants to attend to ensure they are able to get into the hearing.

McCarthy also took time to sit down with McConnell on Tuesday, and other Senate Republicans to discuss their concerns. The agency has stressed that while there are only four hearings, everyone can still comment.

The EPA will continue to gather comments from the public until Oct. 16.