BRADENTON, Fla. - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stepped up his campaign to encourage state opposition to the EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions.
In a letter to the National Governor's Association on March 19, McConnell, a Republican whose home state of Kentucky has already regulated its proposal, urged state leaders to "carefully review the consequences before signing up for this deeply misguided plan."
The administration's Environmental Protection Agency plan is on "shaky legal grounds," he wrote, encouraging governors not to implement carbon reduction plans because the federal rule requiring them has not been tested in court.
McConnell's advice comes amid warnings that the EPA will implement its own plan where states refuse to write their own proposals.
In Kentucky, coal accounts for 93% of the state's generation, according to the nonprofit Kentucky Coal Association.
Last year, Gov. Steve Beshear signed a bill into law that prevents the state from basing its carbon-curbing plan on switching fuel sources. It also maintains coal-fired generation as a source of energy production that provides "reliable and affordable" electricity that must be incorporated into any plan submitted to the federal government.
In some other Southeast states, lawmakers are taking their regulations farther.
Earlier this month in coal-dependent West Virginia, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed a law requiring legislative approval before the state can file a plan with the EPA. The law also requires the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to produce a study examining the feasibility and impact of the federal carbon rules.
In Florida, where a firestorm erupted recently over whether state officials banned the use of the term "climate change" in official documents, bills are being considered that would also require legislative approval of the state's Clean Power Plan.
The EPA proposed a sweeping rule last year to cut carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants by as much as 30% by 2030 in an effort to deal with the health and economic risks posted by climate change, the agency has said.
The EPA rule finalizing the obligation for states to submit plans is expected to become effective in June. It would require plans to begin reducing emissions in the summer of 2016, though extensions of up to two years can be requested.
Rating agency analysts have said that some states could face fiscal challenges complying with the federal power plan because they have sizable carbon-reduction requirements or high-cost alternatives in dealing with the mandate. Analysts have also said that the federal rule could pressure public power ratings.