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McConnell Discourages States From Crafting Clean Power Plans

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is suggesting states shouldn't act on their own to implement the Environmental Protection Agency's clean power plans.  

In an opinion piece in Wednesday's Lexington Herald-Leader, the Kentucky Republican offers advice for governors and other state officials.  

"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," McConnell wrote .  

McConnell said the litigation should be allowed to proceed before states take significant actions, even as the EPA points to its past track record in the courts.  

"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," McConnell wrote. "We're devising strategies now to do just that."  

While Republican lawmakers could very well challenge the EPA's regulatory agenda through a resolution of disapproval or the appropriations process, either could very well provoke a veto threat from President Barack Obama, possibly leading to the kind of funding standoff that's just been resolved in relation to the Department of Homeland Security.  

The administration, for its part, says the skeptics' claims about costs and implementation issues are not well founded.  

"As they have in the past, opponents of EPA's efforts to clean up air pollution exaggerate claims about the potential impacts of the rule on reliability and costs. The fact is that EPA is following the law and developing a flexible program, building on successful efforts in states across the country to move to cleaner sources of energy," an EPA spokesperson said in an email. "We believe most states will choose to develop their own state plans. At the same time, EPA has an obligation under the Clean Air Act to develop a model federal plan – something that many states have asked EPA to do so it can provide an example for states developing their own plans."  

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