EPA: Climate rule input is ‘top priority’

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Monday that it has put an unprecedented emphasis on gathering input for its landmark climate rule for power plants.

Janet McCabe, who oversees air pollution efforts for the agency, said that the Monday deadline for submitting comments to the agency ends just one part of its efforts to take in feedback.

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“From day one, reaching out and engaging with the public and stakeholders has been our top priority,” she wrote in a blog post. “Our proposal was shaped by an extensive and transparent public engagement process that has continued to this day.”

McCabe said the agency received at least 1.6 million comments on its rule as of Nov. 21. It is continuing to accept comments until the close of business Monday.

But that does not include the more than 300 groups with which the EPA met since unveiling the rule in June, nor the hundreds of meetings it held even before that proposal was published, she said.

“Just as the June proposal didn’t mark the end of our outreach efforts; today does not mark the end of our conversation with the public,” she wrote. “We will continue to talk about the ideas everyone is putting forward as we work through the comments we’ve received.”

The blog post from McCabe shows an effort to fight back against charges from conservatives and industry that the agency is ignoring the public and stakeholders in crafting the rule.

“EPA has decided to push a rule that was drafted behind closed doors by powerful, wealthy Washington lawyers and lobbyists at the Natural Resources Defense Council,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) charged in July, referring to reports that the EPA used a plan crafted by the green group.