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Ayotte Backs EPA Clean Power Plan

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., broke with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Sunday by announcing her support for the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan.

McConnell, whose home state of Kentucky has long relied on coal industry jobs, might be the most fervent opponent of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama. That includes its plan, released Friday, to cut carbon emissions in existing power plants.

But New Hampshire is quite different, and Ayotte has been among the few Republicans backing other environmental standards. She is also facing a competitive re-election challenge next year in the swing state from Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan.  

"It's so important that we protect New Hampshire’s beautiful environment for our economy and for our future," Ayotte said in a statement announcing her support for the plan.  

New Hampshire TV station WMUR first reported the news.  

The announcement comes the day before the state's top Democrats, Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, are scheduled to appear together to tout the Clean Power Plan.  

"I have decided to support the Clean Power Plan to address climate change through clean energy solutions that will protect our environment," Ayotte continued in her statement. "New Hampshire is already well on its way to meet the goals of the Clean Power Plan through positive steps it has already taken."  

Ayotte said she "will carefully monitor implementation of the plan to make sure there is sufficient flexibility for New Hampshire" and to ensure energy costs don't increase.