Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) published an op-ed piece in Tuesday’s Lexington Herald-Leader in which he said that states should just simply ignore the Environmental Protection Agency’s clean power regulations.
These new regulations are designed to reduce power plants’ carbon pollution by 30 percent of 2005 levels by the year 2030, according to the New Republic. McConnell, of course, calls these regulations “unfair” and “probably illegal.”
He called on governors and state officials to refuse to “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.”
McConnell also quoted Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, who agrees that the EPA has gone “far beyond its lawful authority,” and that the regulations are probably unconstitutional. However, when contacted by the New Republic, Tribe completely disagreed with McConnell’s advice.
“The problem for Kentucky and many other states — and for the electric power businesses operating in those states,” Tribe said “is that they can’t count on my being right.” He added that “the uncertain legal environment puts many states (and employers doing business and providing jobs in those states) in an impossible position: either gamble that the rule of law will prevail […] or give in now and act cynically to minimize your potential losses.”
States affected by the EPA’s clean power regulations, once they are finalized, have until the summer of next year to submit their plans to reduce carbon emissions. If they do not develop their own plans, they will have to follow the EPA’s “federal implementation plan,” which could end up costing the states and businesses more in the long run.
“A state that writes its own plan gets to make a lot of choices on how to meet its target in the way that makes the most sense for the state’s power companies and stakeholders,” said David Doniger, director of the National Resources Defense Council’s Climate and Clean Energy Program. “The state has more implementation tools at its disposal than EPA has, if the job defaults to EPA.”
McConnell’s suggestion to simply ignore federal regulations, something states cannot legally do, shows just how tight the fossil fuel industry’s grasp is on the GOP. Instead of finding ways to help minimize any cost and job loss associated with the new rules — if any, McConnell’s advice will end up hurting the states and the environment more.