GOP amendment would let the states opt out of EPA climate rule

GOP amendment would let the states opt out of EPA climate rule
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Senate Republicans are proposing a budget amendment that would let states opt out of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) controversial climate rule for power plants.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) proposed the amendment Tuesday on behalf of Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanEx-McConnell policy aide joining lobby firm WATCH: Sen. Flake: “More doubtful” North Korean summit will happen  Lobbying world MORE (R-Ohio), who is up for reelection in 2016.

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Under the amendment, a state’s governor or legislature would be able to opt out of the rule’s requirements for a variety of reasons.

In order to be exempt from the rule, a governor or legislature would have to cite one of the following reasons: the rule would hurt low-income or fixed-income households, risk electric reliability, impair investments in power plants, impair manufacturing or other sectors important to the state’s economy, decrease employment or reduce state or local government revenue.

The emissions regulation, which the EPA plans to make final this fall, is a key piece of the Obama administration’s environmental agenda. The rule aims to cut power plants’ greenhouse gases 30 percent by 2030, but Republicans and businesses argue it will dramatically increase energy costs.

States would be required under the EPA’s rule to submit detailed plans to meet the greenhouse gas reduction targets the EPA set for them.

"This commonsense amendment returns power to the states by ensuring they can make their own decisions when determining if a federal regulation will negatively impact their electricity prices and economy," Portman said in a statement.

Portman hopes to attach the amendment to the Senate’s budget legislation, which it plans to vote on this week.

Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) are co-sponsoring Portman’s proposal.

House Republicans unveiled draft legislation Monday that would provide another kind of opt-out for states. It would let governors veto any compliance plan for the rule, but would not completely shield states from complying like Portman’s amendment.

— Updated at 3:03 p.m.