McConnell to Governors: Don't Comply with EPA Rules

The White House calls the Senate majority leader's efforts "inappropriate and unfounded."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is stepping up his calls for states to not comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's carbon rules for existing power plants, saying governors should wait for legal challenges to play out before crafting their own emissions plans.

In a letter to the National Governors Association, the Kentucky Republican said Thursday the EPA proposal is "already on shaky legal grounds" and that Congress and the courts need time to address it. He adds that states would not face legal consequences if they fail to write plans to meet EPA rules.

"Some have recently suggested that failing to comply with the EPA's requirements would be to disregard the law," McConnell wrote. "But the fact is, it is the EPA that is failing to comply with the law here."

In a statement, the White House said that EPA had followed the law in setting the plan and blasted the majority leader for his plans.

"Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges that we face, and instead of offering solutions, Senator McConnell's alternative is an inappropriate and unfounded attempt to dictate state decisions," said spokesman Frank Benenati.

"While Senator McConnell and the other climate deniers in Congress will do everything they can to block or hinder the administration's progress on climate change, the administration is committed to moving forward to tackle climate change head on," he added.

This summer, EPA will finalize its power-plant rule, which will require a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. States are required to write their own plans, which can include measures like reducing demand and cleaning the emissions from plants themselves.

If states don't submit plans, EPA will impose a federal plan that could be more severe or less tailored than what states would write.

McConnell has drawn criticism for his repeated calls for states to simply say no to the plan, which he first laid out earlier this month in the Lexington Herald-Leader. Even regulators in McConnell's home state have said they have concerns about subjecting the state to a federal plan.

McConnell, however, said there is "serious doubt" about whether EPA had such authority and that the agency could not bring a lawsuit or withhold federal funds from states that don't comply. He says that states should "carefully review the consequences before signing up for this deeply misguided plan."

The letter also comes the same day that the National Governors Association announced that four states, including Republican-led Utah, would participate in a working group to help states develop compliance plans for the EPA rules.