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McConnell Calls for States to Ignore EPA Air Rules; Kentucky Says It Will Still Make a Plan

Petr Kratochvil,

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is urging states to delay creating their own plans to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed greenhouse gas regulations, in hopes legal action will force the EPA to jettison the rules.

In an opinion piece published earlier this weekby the Lexington Herald-Leader, McConnell laid out his objections to the regulations, which are meant to reduce the U.S.’s carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon emissions from sources like fossil fuels are contributing to climate change worldwide.

McConnell writes:

“So what are governors and state officials who value the well-being of the middle class to do? Here’s my advice:

Don’t be complicit in the administration’s attack on the middle class. Think twice before submitting a state plan — which could lock you in to federal enforcement and expose you to lawsuits — when the administration is standing on shaky legal ground and when, without your support, it won’t be able to demonstrate the capacity to carry out such political extremism. 

Refusing to go along at this time with such an extreme proposed regulation would give the courts time to figure out if it is even legal, and it would give Congress more time to fight back. We’re devising strategies now to do just that.

So for now, hold back on the costly process of complying. A better outcome may yet be possible.“

But Kentucky’s Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear’s Energy and Environment Cabinet is still moving forward on crafting the state’s plan to address carbon emissions. In a statement, spokesman Dick Brown said the cabinet appreciates McConnell’s concerns, and also wants to keep electricity rates low. But the cabinet still considers it a priority to plan for a future where carbon dioxide is regulated.

“Because at some point greenhouse gas regulations may become a reality, be it now under 111(d) or at some future time, it is important that we plan for that eventuality by working with energy stakeholders to craft a road map from which to navigate. We also feel an obligation to create a transition document that can be handed off to the next administration in December,” Brown wrote in an email.

“The overwhelming majority of our stakeholders are telling us to make preparations to submit a plan. Failing to follow through with creation of that plan means Kentucky would most likely have to abide by a Federal Implementation Plan that would cause harm to Kentucky’s economic future and burden the next administration with challenges not of its making.”

The EPA has said it expects to finalize the regulations sometime this year. The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet submitted its official comments on the proposed regulations in November.In a separate action, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has joined 11 other states in filing a lawsuitagainst the EPA in an attempt to kill the regulations.

Erica Peterson is a reporter and Kentucky Public Radio correspondent based out of WFPL in Louisville, Kentucky.
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