McConnell: Priority is to ‘get the EPA reined in’

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellConservative groups urge against extending energy tax breaks GOP vulnerables dial back Hillary attacks Top Lobbyists 2016: Hired Guns MORE (R-Ky.) says a top priority of his is “to try to do whatever I can to get the [Environmental Protection Agency] reined in.”

In an interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader, McConnell said it wouldn’t be easy to block the carbon pollution regulations for existing power plants, though doing just that is a promise he made to Kentucky on the campaign trail this year.

"It will be hard because the only good tool to do that ... is through the spending process, and if [President Obama] feels strongly enough about it, he can veto the bill," McConnell told the Herald-Leader.

"But I view it as a complete outrage that he could not get cap-and-trade through the Congress when he owned the place — owned the place — and decided to do it anyway," he said.

McConnell said he won a number of coal-producing counties during Tuesday’s election for the first time and feels a “deep responsibility” to stop the EPA from implementing its proposed carbon pollution standards, which are a central pillar of Obama’s climate legacy.

To McConnell, coal has a very clear future, and he said he is frustrated that other countries like China, India, Australia and some European nations are keeping coal around, but not the U.S.

"It makes me very angry, and I'm going to do everything I can to try to stop them,” he said.

When McConnell takes the reins as majority leader next year, he will be able to set the agenda, and blocking the administration’s landmark climate rules will be high on his list.