Senate Dems to EPA: Make climate rule stronger

A group of Senate Democrats are pressuring the administration to make its controversial climate regulation on carbon pollution from existing power plants stronger.

In a letter to Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyObama EPA chief: Pruitt must uphold ‘law and science’ Overnight Energy: Congress does away with Obama coal mining rule GOP suspends rules to push through EPA pick despite Dem boycott MORE on Tuesday, the senators called on the administration to strengthen the requirements in its proposed rule and finalize a much stronger one that would result in steeper reductions to greenhouse gas emissions.

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The current proposal, which the EPA hopes to finalize by June 2015, mandates the nation’s fleet of existing power plants cut carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels.

“While the emission reduction goals of the Clean Power Plan are laudable, we believe that with modest changes to reflect real-world market and technological conditions, the plan can, and should, achieve even greater emissions reductions,” the letter states.

Democratic Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleySenate advances Trump's Commerce pick Senate confirms Pruitt to lead EPA Democrats want Pruitt vote delayed over emails MORE (Ore.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenAT&T, Time Warner defend deal Scott Brown being considered for ambassador to New Zealand: report Warren: Trump's EPA pick the 'attorney general for Exxon' MORE (Mass.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinDem: Trump's China trademark looks like a quid pro quo Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick Flynn told FBI he didn't talk sanctions with Russian envoy: report MORE (Calif.), and Independent Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDrug importation from other countries will save dollars and lives Sanders: Trump a 'pathological liar' Buttigieg endorsed by ex-treasurer in DNC race MORE (Vt.), along with a few others, said the EPA should require more renewable energy and energy efficiency deployment under certain building blocks of the rule.

“The Clean Power Plan will be the single most significant step this country has ever taken to tackle greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector, so it is essential that it be done right,” the letter states.

“For the Clean Power Plan to be a success, it must achieve the level of emissions reductions that the science calls for to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change,” it adds.

The EPA wrapped up its public comment period on the carbon pollution proposal earlier this month.

Republicans, and the oil and coal industry, are among the greatest opponents of the proposal, arguing it would kill jobs, hurt the economy, and potentially harm the electric grid.

When Republicans take control of the Senate next year they plan to attack the president’s climate plan, specifically the carbon pollution rule and efforts by the administration to work with other nations fighting climate change.