Republican compares EPA chief’s departure to Gadhafi’s fall

An outspoken GOP critic of the Environmental Protection Agency sees a parallel between the pending departure of EPA chief Lisa Jackson and the toppling of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) said the change of leadership at the EPA might not be for the better.

“I don't want a repeat of what happened in Libya when we helped topple [Moammar] Gadhafi and then we wound up having al-Qaeda," McKinley told Environment & Energy Daily.

Asked to clarify, McKinley said, “I'm saying sometimes the known is better than unknown. Let's make sure that we have the right person [at EPA]. And let's see whether we want to go to the mat against them; maybe it's someone we can work with.”

A spokesman told The Hill Friday that McKinley wasn't directly comparing EPA to Libya.

“Rep. McKinley was simply making an analogy, not a direct comparison to the recent Libyan uprising. The point he was making is that change in leadership brings with it uncertainty,” spokesman Jim Forbes said.

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McKinley, a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, is among the many Republicans who say President Obama’s EPA is harmful to the coal industry. 

Defenders of the EPA say the agency is pressing ahead with long-overdue public health protections and climate change initiatives.

McKinley is among the leaders of various Capitol Hill efforts, which have drawn some Democratic support, to prevent what EPA critics allege will be overly stringent regulation of coal ash, a byproduct from coal-fired power plants.

The West Virginia lawmaker alleges that planned EPA rules on storage and disposal of the material will prevent its recycling into construction and consumer products, and he has floated an alternative plan.

McKinley also sponsored bills that would curb EPA’s power to block mountaintop-removal mining projects and scuttle carbon emissions standards for new power plants.

This post was updated at 3:06 p.m.