Critics say new Obama administration rules to regulate power plants' greenhouse gas emissions will have 'devastating impacts' on the coal industry. But EPA chief Gina McCarthy disagrees.
Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says that if Congress fails to pass a stopgap spending measure by the Oct. 1 start of the new budget year, “it will mean that EPA effectively shuts down with only a core group of individuals who are there in the event of a significant emergency.”
Given the agency's role enforcing laws that protect the environment, Administrator McCarthy added, “I don’t think anyone sees that as optimal for the United States to have EPA not fully up and running,” she said at a Monitor-hosted breakfast for reporters.
The EPA chief defended new rules the agency released last week that would set the first national limits on heat-trapping carbon pollution from existing power plants. To meet the new standards, coal-fired plants would have to install expensive new technology to capture a portion of their carbon dioxide emissions and bury them underground. Experts say new gas-fired plans could meet the proposed standards without new technology.
The rules triggered a storm of protest from coal-related companies and their political supporters. In a statement, Sen. Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia said the regulations “will have devastating impacts to the coal industry and our economy.” Speaking on the Senate floor, minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky called the rules, “the latest administration salvo in its never ending war on coal – a war against the very people who provide power and energy for our country,” Investor’s Business Daily editorialized that the rules were “part of an ideologically driven fight to tear the capitalist heart out of western civilization.”
When asked about the criticism, McCarthy said, “This is not an energy policy statement, this is not an ideological statement. This is the application of currently existing law in a way that it was supposed to be applied.” She added: “We have very good history of 40 years indicating that technology innovates, that businesses adjust, that we can both reduce pollution and maintain the healthy economy that we are all looking for.”