HOUSTON — Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy sought to assure energy executives on Thursday that EPA won't shut off the lights in the name of battling climate change.
McCarthy, in a speech before a big energy conference here, said EPA's upcoming rule to set carbon-emissions standards for power plants will cut pollution without jeopardizing supplies.
"EPA is not going to threaten energy reliability," McCarthy said at the IHS CERAWeek conference, calling it a priority.
EPA plans to issue draft climate-change regulations for the nation's existing power plants in June.
McCarthy said EPA's goal is to help spur a cleaner power system while recognizing the important role of fossil fuels.
"Conventional fuels like coal and natural gas are going to play a critical role in a diverse U.S. energy mix for years to come. This rule will not change that. It will recognize that," she said.
Agency critics have argued that the rules, combined with other EPA pollution mandates, will effectively force power companies to retire enough coal-fired power plants that power reliability will be jeopardized.
They have pointed to the heavy energy demand when the invading polar vortex sent temperatures plunging in January.