By Laura Barron-Lopez - 07/30/14 01:18 PM EDT
Republicans slammed President Obama over regulations targeting carbon pollution from existing coal-fired power plants on Tuesday, telling him to take "his golf cap off and get his hard hat on."
A press conference led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) featured former coal miner and "America's Got Talent" contestant Jimmy Rose, who sang his song "Coal Keeps the Lights On."
To bulk up support, the administration started a major public relations push this week to strengthen the president's hand just as the battle over the regulations reached fever pitch.
On Wednesday, Republicans struck back and pressed Obama to visit coal country to see the effect those regulations would have.
"I want him to get off the back nine and come into the mines," Kelly said. "I want him to get his golf cap off and get his hard hat on. I want him to walk the streets and I want him to look in face of moms and dads that rely every day on this precious product."
"This is coal's day in court," Kelly added.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a possible 2016 presidential contender, joined the rally in front of the Capitol, along with Republican Senate candidate Rep. Steve Daines (Mont.) and a handful of other GOP congressional members.
Rep. Nick Rahall, who is facing a tough reelection battle in coal-centric West Virginia, was the only Democrat to join Republicans on Wednesday.
Rahall stressed the devastation he says the rules would have on coal companies and the thousands of jobs that would be lost.
For its part, the EPA says the new standards give states as much flexibility as possible to design a plan to meet the reduction targets.
EPA chief Gina McCarthy has said that if a state wants to invest in its coal plants to make them cleaner and help meet the goal, then the plan enables them to do so.
While the EPA's public hearings are set to wrap up on Friday in Pittsburgh, people will have until Oct. 16 to file comments on the rules via email, fax or letter.