McConnell suggests Obama plan to cut power emissions won't stick

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 29, 2015 5:18 PM

By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate majority leader on Wednesday urged countries to go slowly on committing to cut carbon emissions in any global agreement later this year, in his latest effort to cripple President Barack Obama's clean power plan.

Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, a Republican from coal-producing Kentucky, told a congressional panel that as long he is in charge of the Senate, "this body is not going to be signing off on any back door energy tax."

"The failure of Congress to sign off should signal to other countries they should proceed with caution into the December 2015 climate talks in Paris," he added.

Last month, the Obama administration submitted plans to the United Nations to cut emission up to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, seeking to take a leadership role ahead of the talks in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

McConnell, a member of the Senate subcommittee on interior and environment, was addressing EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, at a panel meeting on her agency's 2016 budget.

The EPA is planning this summer to adopt the Clean Power Plan that would cut emissions from coal-fired power plants. The plan is a key part of Obama's strategy to cut U.S. carbon emissions and push other countries to fight climate change.

McConnell has been waging a war this year on the plan saying it will kill jobs in regions that produce fossil fuels. He has written letters to all 50 U.S. governors urging them to refuse to submit details on how to comply with the plan and has tried to increase doubt beyond the country's borders that the rules would ever go into action.

He faces an uphill battle in getting Congress to overturn the EPA rules, however, as Obama has said he would veto any such measure, and as McConnell does not have the two thirds majority to overturn a rejection of it.

McCarthy told the hearing the clean power rules are designed to give "tremendous flexibility to the individual states in the most respectful way that we can."

"I believe we are acting under the authorities that Congress gave us under the Clean Air Act and we are going to be producing a rule that will stand the test of time in the courts," she said.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Bernard Orr)