Sierra Club warns vulnerable senators to back EPA climate rule

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The Sierra Club is urging vulnerable senators to support President Obama’s climate rule for power plants, warning that the rule is popular among voters who are heading to the polls next year.

The group polled voters in half a dozen states about the Clean Power Plan, a rule designed to cut carbon pollution from power plants, and found generally positive reviews among registered voters.

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The poll, conducted by liberal-leaning firm Public Policy Polling, found majority support for the plan in Maine, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia and Iowa. It said voters in those states generally prefer the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to write environmental rules rather than members of Congress.

Four Republicans from those states are seeking reelection in 2016: Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.), Mark KirkMark KirkThe Trail 2016: Berning embers Senate Dems link court fight to Congressional Baseball Game Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote MORE (Ill.), Rob PortmanRob PortmanGun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA McConnell quashes Senate effort on guns Poll: Burr narrowly leads Democrat in NC Senate race MORE (Ohio) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa), with Kirk and Portman seen as vulnerable. 

Handicappers consider Kirk to be especially vulnerable next year, and greens have looked to challenge him on environmental issues. Portman is also considered a potential Democratic target in 2016. Iowa is an early-voting state in the presidential contest.

The Senate is set to vote soon on Congressional Review Act resolutions blocking the Clean Power Plan and other EPA power plant rules. The regulations are unpopular among Republicans, though at least one senator facing a tough reelection — Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) — has come out in favor of the plan.

In a statement, the Sierra Club urged other lawmakers to do so, too. 

“Voters from these states have made it crystal clear that they want their senators to support the Clean Power Plan, not coal interests on Capitol Hill,” said Mary Anne Hitt, the director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. 

“Senators in these states have a choice: listen to their constituents back home and support the Clean Power Plan, along with all the public health and clean energy benefits it provides, or side with deep-pocketed polluters in Washington who are attacking it,” the statement continued.

Greens say the Clean Power Plan is critical for reducing carbon emissions and confronting climate change, a major goal of the Obama administration. Its opponents have warned it could raise electricity prices and lead to job losses in the energy industry.