GOP senator urges EPA to pull existing power plant regulations

Senate Republicans are wasting no time going after the Environmental Protection Agency on the first day of the new GOP-controlled Congress.

Sen. John ThuneJohn ThuneWaymo taps Senate Commerce staffer for government affairs team Billboard ads target Republicans who want to roll back net neutrality GOP debates tax cuts vs. tax reform MORE (R-S.D.) wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyTrump plans to roll back environmental rule everyone agrees on EPA chief to visit Colorado mine spill site In the fight between Rick Perry and climate scientists, Perry is winning MORE on Tuesday, demanding she withdraw a controversial regulation targeting emissions at existing power plants.

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Republicans consider the proposed emission limits the most controversial part of the Obama administration's so-called "war on coal." 

The rule would raise energy costs for consumers and hurt the economy, Thune said.

"As you know, affordable and reliable energy helps grow the economy and helps low- and middle-income families make ends meet," Thune wrote. "Unfortunately, the [rule] will only increase electrical rates and hurt those who can afford it the least."

The EPA proposed cutting emissions at existing power plants in June, and the rule is on schedule to be finalized later this year. The rule would require existing power plants to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

This follows a similar EPA rule, requiring new power plants to reduce emissions.

Thune called the carbon emissions reductions at existing power plants a "backdoor energy tax" that would raise electricity bills in his home state of South Dakota by as much as 90 percent. 

This would be "incredibly costly" for consumers, particularly the elderly and poor who would be hit the worst by higher energy prices, he said.

Thune also expressed concerns that the country's energy grid would be less reliable as coal gets pushed out of the mix.