Senior House Republican readies EPA power plant regs bill

Several Senate contests feature Democratic incumbents in red-leaning states. A handful of Democrats in conservative states also decided to retire rather than run again in 2014, leaving the field open.

“Their opponents are going to raise the issue when they’re running next year about, ‘We’ve never had a national debate about this. We’re the only country in the world where you can’t build a new coal power plant. Is that what you are supporting? Is that your position?’” said Whitfield, who chairs the Energy and Power sub-panel of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Whitfield said he’s been working on the bill for fourth months. He’s planning to introduce it when Congress returns from its August recess.

The bill would represent the latest shot by Republicans at President Obama’s climate agenda, which features EPA emissions rules for new and existing power plants as its centerpiece.

Republicans, coal-state Democrats and industry have opposed the power plant rules, saying they’ll raise power prices and harm the economy.

Liberal Democrats, environmental organizations and public health groups praise the regulations, saying they will save billions of dollars in health care costs and slow the effects of climate change.

— This story was updated at 6:22 p.m.