GOP highlights state objections to EPA climate rule

Senate Republicans used a Wednesday hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) landmark climate rule to highlight the objections from states that oppose the rule.

The GOP brought in officials from Indiana, Wyoming and Wisconsin — each of which has Republican governors and Republican majorities in both legislative chambers — to outline how they find the rule unreasonable, irresponsible and illegal.

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Democrats on the Environment and Public Works Committee brought in officials from New York and California — whose governors are Democrats — to support the regulation, which aims to slash the power sector’s carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030.

It was the second hearing in as many months that the panel has held on the rule, to which Republicans strongly object and have sought to scuttle or change significantly.

“The proposal undermines the longstanding concept of cooperative federalism under the Clean Air Act where the federal government is meant to work in partnership with the states to achieve the underlying goals,” Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeSenators tear into controversial Trump environment nominee McCain backs Pentagon nominee despite concerns over defense industry ties GOP senators ask Trump for meeting on biofuels mandate MORE (R-Okla.), the committee’s chairman, said at the hearing. “Instead, this rule forces states to redesign the ways they generate, manage and use electricity in a manner that satisfies President Obama’s extreme climate agenda.”

The witnesses from Republican states said that the EPA’s proposal from last year was unattainable given the time constraints, the high amounts of carbon reductions and the inflexible tools.

“This proposal will cause significant harm to Hoosiers and most residents of the United States without providing any measurable offsetting benefits,” said Thomas Easterly, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Quality.

Ellen Nowak, chairwoman of Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission, said the rule threatens Wisconsin’s economy.

“If the problems in the Clean Power Plan are not remedied, the work Wisconsin has done to restore our manufacturing sector will be threatened,” she said.

Democrats used the stories of New York and California to prove their contention that states can cut emissions and remain economically competitive.

Both states are in the midst of their own efforts to slash carbon pollution from power plants.

“I have good news for other states: you can significantly reduce these emissions from the power sector and do so in a way that helps grow your economy,” said Michael Myers, chief of the New York Attorney General’s Office’s environmental litigation section.

Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerBarbara Boxer recounts harassment on Capitol Hill: ‘The entire audience started laughing’ 100 years of the Blue Slip courtesy Four more lawmakers say they’ve been sexually harassed by colleagues in Congress MORE (D-Calif.), the panel’s top Democrat, applauded New York and her home state.

“California, New York, and other states should be proud of their leadership in putting forward real solutions to climate change and showing that meeting the goals of the Clean Power Plan will benefit states and the American people,” she said.