EPA Chief: No Politics Behind Delay in Climate Rule

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 20: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy addresses a breakfast event at the National Press Club September 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. McCarthy announced that the EPA is proposing regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions, which requires future coal burning power plants to decrease 40 percent of their emission.  (National Journal)

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy is denying GOP claims that a delay in the formal publication of climate-change rules for power plants was political, designed to avoid completing the regulations before the 2014 elections.

EPA released proposed carbon-emissions standards for new power plants in September, but they were not published in the Federal Register until earlier this month, which triggers the formal public-comment process.

"I think the EPA's delay is designed to postpone controversial news during an election year," said Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, during a hearing Thursday.

But McCarthy said the delay was not EPA's fault and that the agency "tried very hard" to get them published.

"As soon as that proposal was released, we had submitted it to the Federal Register office. The delay was solely the backup in the Federal Register office," McCarthy said in response to charges from Vitter and Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.