By Benjamin Goad - 10/15/13 04:39 PM EDT
The government shutdown is denying members of the public a chance to weigh in on contentious planned regulations that would limit carbon emissions from existing power plants, Sen. Ed Markey charged Tuesday.
The Massachusetts Democrat, who has long championed federal efforts to tackle climate change, blamed the Republican Party’s conservative wing for the shutdown, which prompted the cancellation of public hearing Tuesday on the Environmental Protection Agency proposal.
“This Tea Party shutdown has shut out the public from even discussing climate change, and what our government can do about it,” Markey said during a conference call with reporters.
The EPA has already proposed regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants, and is currently developing a rule for existing plants. The agency is due to propose that rule in June of next year, and finalize it one year later. Together, the regulations represent the centerpiece of President Obama's second-term climate initiative.
A series of 11 public meetings were scheduled, as the EPA sets out to gather feedback from interested parties. But the so-called “listening tour” drew fire last week from Republicans, who said too few dates were scheduled in states that rely heavily on coal electricity.
The sessions are to be held at EPA regional offices, which oversee large swathes of the country.
Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), called upon the EPA to add more coal country dates.
Yet the shutdown, which forced the furlough of more than 90 percent of the EPA’s workforce, also prompted the agency to postpone the tour’s the first two stops: Tuesday’s event, which was scheduled in Boston, and an Oct. 18 session in Philadelphia.